From the Archives, 1965: Dawn Fraser to fight 10-year swimming ban

First published in The Age on March 3, 1965

Two Swimmers To Take Legal Action Over Bans

Dawn Fraser and Linda McGill will take legal action against their expulsions from the Australian Swimming Union. This was decided last night during a meeting of solicitors representing the two girls.

A Queen's Counsel has been appointed to handle each of their cases. The nature of the proposed court action was not announced.

Dawn Fraser meets with solicitor Edward France after the ban was announced.Credit:R. Martin

It will not be decided until the girls receive official notification from the A.S.U. of the bans against them.

Although the A.S.U. announced its punishments in Hobart on Monday night, the girls themselves have still not received any official communication.

Miss Fraser, 27, was suspended for 10 years and Miss McGill, 20, for four years.

The A.S.U. action followed reports of alleged misbehavior during the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The third Sydney girl among the four swimmers expelled, Nan Duncan, 17, is also likely to take legal action.

This was indicated by her mother after she heard her daughter had been suspended for three years.

The fourth girl involved is Marlene Dayman, 15, of Victoria, who has also been suspended for three years.

Miss Fraser appealed to the Australian public not to "read between the lines" in reports on the suspensions.

"Many Australians are wondering why the penalties imposed are so harsh. I assure them that we did nothing more than what has been reported in the press.

"I did not wear the official costume because it did not fit properly and restricted my movement, and to march in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is the thrill of a lifetime.

Scapegoat

"It's all a bit ridiculous. I can understand being banned for a short period, but 10 years is a bit much.

"I'm the scapegoat apparently. People watch me to try to pinpoint any little thing I do wrong.

"Some officials in the A.S.U. have been watching for the past six years waiting for me to do something wrong."

Miss Fraser said: "I want to have the whole matter out in the open.

"I want to see how big these people are who have slandered my name."

She hoped the public felt strong enough about the decisions to support her and the other girls.

Secrecy

She said the A.S.U. had said they preferred to keep the details of the misbehavior charges from the public, but what was left unsaid was worse than what was said.

Miss Fraser said she was very concerned about the effect of the expulsion order on the three other girls.

Miss McGill, who was overseas, had no chance to defend herself.

The two younger girls could go on to be world record holders—but they had been "more or less banned for life."

Government Concern

The arbitrary expulsion of the four top swimmers brought strong criticism yesterday from the Premier (Mr. Bolte) and the State Opposition Leader (Mr. Stoneham).

Mr. Bolte intimated that the donation of £5000 which the State Government made to send Australia's team to Tokyo might not be repeated for the next Olympics.

"If we are still in office at the time of the 1968 Olympics we may have to take a closer look at the matter before we make a contribution," Mr. Bolte said.

Mr. Bolte said he would not say the action of the union was wrong.

However, insufficient information had been made public to justify the expulsions.

The public and Governments had subscribed money to send the team to Tokyo last year. They were entitled to know why such drastic punishments had been imposed.

Mr. Stoneham described the expulsions as "outrageous."

The penalties inflicted on these girls are out of all reason, he said.

The expulsions were a strong reflection on the management of a swimming team because it appeared the officials could not control the competitors.

The union should review its decision and make a public announcement to clarify the whole matter.

The N.S.W. Premier (Mr. Renshaw) also sided with Miss Fraser and the other suspended swimmers.

"I do not know all the facts of the matter but the scope and extent of these disqualifications seem savage in the extreme." he said.

"They appear to have all the elements of hate, rather than a reasonable approach.

"Those disqualified are all young people and are very exuberant, and this should have been weighed in imposing the penalty.

"They have previously over the years, brought great credit to Australia and Australians."

Miss Ann Hatton, who named the swimmers in a report to the A.S.U., said she was "surprised and shocked" by the penalties.

"These are unbelievably savage sentences. I am appalled," she added.

Miss Hatton was manageress of the Australian women's swimming team at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

"These sentences are ridiculous and out of all proportion for such minor offences," she said.

"The most I expected to happen was that they would be reprimanded or at the worst suspended for a year."

Miss Hatton said the sentences were imposed undemocratically and allowed the girls no right of appeal.

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