The famous Australian award-winning swimmer has publicly apologized for his poor behavior after he was accused of tweaking a man’s nipple on-board a flight because the passenger reclined his sit a bit too far.
Hackett, 35, has been in a sad mood since last month after his failure to qualify for the Rio Olympics at the Australian trials in Adelaide.
In his apologies, Hackett explained: “I seriously and genuinely regret my poor behaviour.
“I have stuffed up more than once and am working on these issues. It is embarrassing to hear and read the consequences of my actions.
“I apologise unreservedly to the gentleman on the flight.”
Hackett added that for now, what he wants is to make direct contact with his fellow passenger.
“I know I have to front the media and discuss my actions in a more appropriate and accountable way.
“I just have to sort a few things first so I can be as frank and open as I need to be.”
The former long-time 1500m world record-holder was in the business class section of the Virgin Australia flight from Adelaide to Melbourne when the incident occurred. News of the event has also spread around the world through the media.
Australian Federal Police confirmed they carefully handled the situation after speaking to the 35-year-old victim of the assault at Melbourne airport. No charges were filed on the incident.
Earlier report said the man had reclined his seat when Hackett “grabbed it and yanked it back”.
“Then he put his hand through and groped my chest and tweaked my nipple quite forcefully,” the man said.
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.”
Pert said he was in Hackett’s company when they left the plane.
“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,” he added.
Hackett is one of the Australian swimming legends. He retired after the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he won the 1500m freestyle including the 2000 and 2004 Games.
He went through a divorce and underwent rehab in 2014 for an addiction to sleeping pills.
Grant Hackett came out of retirement hoping to become the oldest Australian swimmer to qualify for an Olympics but failed. He was unable to qualify for the 200 meters freestyle final at the Australian Swimming Championships.
Swimming Australia said it was “extremely disappointed” to hear the reports after the sport’s positive week in Adelaide, where a number of young stars qualified for Rio.
“The reported incident was particularly surprising, given the manner in which Grant conducted himself over the duration of the event.
“Given Grant’s recent experiences, we are concerned for Grant’s welfare and believe that it is very important that we provide Grant with all the support we can provide to ensure his progress as a person remains on track,” the statement added.