May 23, 2016 / 1:27 AM / a year ago

Shooter Diamond charged for firearms offences

Australia's Michael Diamond reacts after his men's trap shooting qualification round at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Royal Artillery Barracks August 6, 2012. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Twice Olympic shooting champion Michael Diamond has been arrested for drink driving and charged with firearms offences, the Australian Olympic Committee said on Monday, jeopardizing his chances of competing at a seventh Olympics in Rio.

New South Wales police said they had charged a 44-year-old man with “high range drink driving, not keeping firearm safe and handling or using firearm while under the influence of alcohol.”

His driver’s and firearms licenses had been suspended and he had been granted bail to appear at court on June 7, police said in a statement, adding that he had been involved in a domestic argument with a relative prior to his arrest.

Police said a shotgun with 150 rounds of ammunition was found in his car and that a breath analysis later showed he was three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit.

An AOC spokesman confirmed Diamond had been charged over the offences.

Local media reported that Diamond had refused to take a breathalyzer after being stopped by police late on Saturday near his brother’s house in a coastal resort north of Sydney.

Diamond won trap gold at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, defended his title in his hometown Sydney four years later and hopes to become only the second Australian to compete at a seventh Olympics in Rio, matching equestrian rider Andrew Hoy.

Australia’s Olympic team chef de mission Kitty Chiller said Diamond’s nomination for Rio was up to the sport’s national governing body, Shooting Australia (SA), but added that the AOC could still overrule it.

“If a conviction is proven to have brought that athlete or their sport into disrepute, then yes it would (rule an athlete out),” Chiller told local media.

“If it is proven what has been suggested overnight, (it‘s) not something that I would want any of our team members to display.”

SA said it was gathering information on the case.

“We can confirm that Shooting Australia is working closely with Michael to support him and to ensure that his welfare is protected,” it said in a statement.

Diamond’s participation at the Rio Games was already under a cloud due to legal action taken by another local shooter, who was passed over for selection for the two-man trap team.

Teenager Mitchell Iles has appealed to sport’s highest tribunal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, seeking to overturn his omission.

Diamond, along with Olympic bronze medalist Adam Vella, were set to be selected by SA last month but the governing body held off naming the team pending Iles’s hearing.

SA said the appeal would proceed.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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