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AOC to kick rower out of Games
Chris Wang, WWOS
19:59 AEST Fri Aug 3 2012

The Australian Olympic Committee will kick disgraced men's eight rower Josh Booth out of the London Games regardless of whether he is charged by police for damaging property.

Drunk and dazed after a night spent commiserating his dashed Olympic dream, Booth allegedly smashed windows at two English businesses on Wednesday night, apparently thinking he was breaking into his own home.

The Olympic debutant, 21, from Melbourne, must now answer to British police after being arrested for alleged criminal damage in Egham, southwest of London.

AOC Deputy Chef de Mission Chris Fydler said Booth and the AOC had been working with local police in a bid to avoid criminal damage charges.

"We're working with the local police and it is at their suggestion that were following the steps that they've provided to us," Fydler told reporters in London.

"As long as they're conducted appropriately ... we feel confident that we can work with those police to avoid those charges for Josh."

He said the incident was out of character for Booth, who was at a loss to explain his actions.

"Josh is very apologetic and embarrassed about what's happened and certainly wants to make good for any damage that he caused," Fydler said.

"It's quite out of character for Josh, he really can't explain why he actually conducted himself in that particular way but accepts that was what happened and is prepared for any of the repercussions.

"This has been an embarrassing situation not just for rowing but for all of us as well.

"We expect a much higher standard of behaviour from all our athletes and will certainly be reminding section managers, as various sports start to complete, that a level of behaviour is expected of their athletes."

Booth will offer a personal apology and pay $2100 to the owners of two shops he damaged, the Australian Olympic Committee said.

"From what he had said to the policeman, he thought he was at home and was trying to get into his own home, just drunk and disoriented," said a worker at B.W. Dartnell and Associates, where Booth allegedly used a large planter box to break a patterned glass window.

Two doors down, a window at Hugo's Restaurant was also smashed.

Dressed in his yellow Australian tracksuit, Booth had been out drinking with fellow rowers after his crew finished last in their final at nearby Eton Dorney on Wednesday.

The worker at the small engineering company, who asked not to be named, was called by police about 2am (BST) and alerted to the damage. Australian team boss Nick Green got a phone call from police at 3.30am.

Green said he was told Booth had fainted and hit his head after being arrested and taken to Staines police station over the alleged criminal damage.

The athlete was taken to hospital as a precaution, but was later released.

Green declined to comment on whether he would be disciplined by the AOC, saying he was awaiting the outcome of the police investigation.

"We would be reminding our athletes again, because we reminded them on their arrival, that we expect athletes when they have finished their competition, to consume alcohol in a correct manner and behave appropriately," AOC media director Mike Tancred told AAP.

Men's eight Coxswain Toby Lister confirmed some members of the crew had been out for a "few beers" after their race.

"We'd all been disappointed. You don't want to go to the Olympics and finish sixth," he said.

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