Australian team chief Nick Green has rushed to the defence of Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Leisel Jones, calling claims that she is out of shape, "disgraceful" and "unfair".
The Sydney Morning Herald carried unflattering photos of the 26-year-old that suggested the former world record holder is a touch flabby and in less than best shape.
But Green opened the daily Australian team press conference in London by stating: "I think [the article] is disgraceful, to be honest. I'm disappointed with the article and I think it is extremely unfair on Leisel Jones and the work she has done for the country at this level. She is a triple Olympic gold medallist, a winner of eight medals for this country. I think she deserves a lot more respect than she was given."
In London Jones, nicknamed "Lethal Leisel" when she was fast piling up world titles, will become the first Australian swimmer to compete at four Olympic Games.
"I think you have to respect that athletes spend four years to get to this occasion and athletes come in different shapes and sizes. It's your performance and your preparation leading to the performance which is absolutely paramount," said Green. "This is the athletes' golden opportunity, they get this once every four years. Athletes don't go to the Olympic Games for a holiday, they just don't.
"Leisel is a superb athlete. She is a triple Olympic gold medallist and she has won eight medals over four Olympic Games for this country. She knows what she is doing and she's preparing the right way and everyone in the team supports her 100 percent."
Her coach, Michael Bohl, said Jones was in good condition. He told reporters: "She's a different sort of athlete. She's not a 14 or 15-year-old girl who is doing 10 really hard sessions a week. She's probably at the end of her swimming career. She's been doing nine sessions a week, and two gym sessions a week coming into this, and we were really happy with her form."