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Rower Josh Booth expelled from Games team

04:06 AEST Sat Aug 4 2012
By Jim Morton and Andy Drummond

Ashamed and repentant, Australian rower Josh Booth has avoided criminal charges and fully accepted his punishment in being sent home from the London Olympics.

An emotional Booth fronted the media on Friday after hearing he'd been axed from the Australian team for a drunken rampage following his last-place finish in the final of the men's eight at Eton Dorney, west of London.

Police did not proceed with criminal charges against the debutant Olympian after the 21-year old personally apologised to the operators of two businesses at Egham, nearby the Royal Holloway Games rowing village.

Booth also offered to cover the cost, about $NZ1550, of repairing smashed windows at the small engineering firm and restaurant.

"I'm deeply ashamed of my actions on Wednesday night, they do not in any way reflect the type of values I hold, the type of person I am and the person I aspire to be," the Melbourne university student read from a prepared statement.

"My behaviour was uncharacteristic but nonetheless I fully accept the reprimands of the Australian Olympic Committee and I'll regret my behaviour for many years to come."

He is due to leave the UK today.

"Mr Booth is extremely fortunate that the victims in this case have accepted the offer of reparation, as there are no excuses for criminal damage, whatever the circumstances," Chief Superintendent Gavin Stephens said in a statement issued by police.

"In this case, we are satisfied Mr Booth has shown remorse, a willingness to make amends for the damage caused, and is facing the consequences of his actions."

After his arrest, Booth passed out at the local police station and hit his head.

He was taken to hospital as a precaution and later released, returning to police for questioning on Friday.

The youngest male oarsman in the 46-strong rowing team, Booth said his actions should serve as a warning to other athletes disappointed by defeat.

"The damage I caused was not motivated by any malicious intent to steal or destroy but was rather an emotional outburst - an inappropriate expression of my disappointment and frustration at our result in a very hard-fought final," he said.

"As a young athlete I have made a very grave, public mistake in not dealing with the emotional surfeits of the competition in an appropriate and healthy manner."

Australian Olympic Committee chef de mission Nick Green said Booth was being expelled from the team and sent home immediately because his actions were not consistent with the Australian Olympic team's values.

"We are obviously disappointed by Josh's actions and we note he is very remorseful for what he has done," Green said.

A staff member at one damaged business told AAP that police had said the rower was confused, and mistakenly thought he was breaking into his own home.

Booth said he was deeply remorseful for dishonouring the Olympic spirit.

"I've betrayed the trust bestowed upon me by the AOC, my coaches, teammates and disrespected the privilege of representing my county in the greatest sporting event in the world.

"I hope this incident doesn't detract from the outstanding performances of the Australian athletes in the Olympic Games."

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