Australian swimming great Grant Hackett may have been drinking prior to an alleged mid-air “nipple” squeeze on a fellow passenger, a witness said Monday.
The 35-year-old dual Olympic champion, who recently failed in his bid to make the Australian team for Rio, was reportedly questioned by police after the flight landed in Melbourne.
Australian Federal Police confirmed only that they spoke to a 35-year-old man at Melbourne airport and that no charges were laid.
“Enquiries in relation to this matter are continuing,” police said.
Neither Hackett nor his management have commented on events in the business class section of the Virgin Australia flight from Adelaide on Sunday.
But reports said it was sparked by the passenger in front of Hackett reclining his seat.
The male passenger, who was not named, told Melbourne’s Herald-Sun newspaper that as he reclined his chair, Hackett “grabbed it and yanked it back”.
“Then he put his hand through and groped my chest and tweaked my nipple quite forcefully,” he alleged.
Gary Pert, the chief executive of the Collingwood Football Club, said he was seated across the aisle from Hackett and saw the incident unfold.
“He (Hackett) was not aggressive or upset,” Pert told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
“One of the passengers in front of him put his chair back and Grant just leant forward, put his hand between the seat and appeared to just tap the person.”
“I think he would be the first one to say he was affected by alcohol and literally was asleep or passed out on the flight for the majority of the time,” Pert added.
Hackett, one of the greats of Australian swimming, retired after the 2008 Beijing Olympics after winning the 1500m freestyle at both the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics.
He underwent rehab in 2014 after seeking help for an addiction to sleeping pills.
Hackett came out of retirement with hopes of becoming the oldest Australian swimmer to qualify for an Olympics, but missed out when he failed to qualify for the 200 metres freestyle final at the Australian Swimming Championships this month.