Grant Hackett has issued a public apology for his alleged assault of a man on board a Virgin Australia flight from Adelaide to Melbourne on Sunday morning.
Hackett has been accused of reaching forward and tweaking the man’s nipple after the man reclined his seat in front of Hackett.
“I seriously and genuinely regret my poor behaviour,” the Olympic champion said in a statement.
“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. I am trying to make direct contact with him personally.
“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. I apologise for the inconvenience.”
This year meant to be a golden year for Grant Hackett. With plans to revive his golden swimming career and compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, he would finally some chequered incident’s in his past behind him.
But things took an unexpected turn last week when Hackett failed to win selection for the Australian Olympic team.
The idea of Hackett attending the Olympics as a team mentor was floated. After all, as a former Olympic swimming team captain, he seemed an ideal fit for the position.
But now even that dream appears to have been sunk.
Grant Hackett spotted after yesterday's flight, slumped in a wheelchair. Source: Twitter.
Hackett has been accused of sexual assaulting a male passenger on a Virgin Australia flight to Melbourne after he allegedly took issue with the man reclined his seat in front of him and reached through to tweak the man's nipple.
According to the man Hackett then stroked the man's arm and said; 'It's OK, it's all right'.
Upon arrival in Melbourne, Hackett who allegedly smelt strongly of alcohol, was escorted off the plane and was later seen in a wheelchair.
The Collingwood Football Club's chief executive Gary Pert who was on the flight, said Hackett was "clearly incapacitated".
"I would assume he would be the first one to say he'd had too much to drink," he said.
"He was on the plane in a state where, really, he wasn't even able to stay awake for the flight.
"I don't know really know Grant all that well, but he certainly wasn't on the plane to cause trouble or going out of his way to be aggressive or upset any passengers — quite the opposite.
"He didn't like the seat going back, he tapped the person in front of him ... he wasn't happy, then Grant sat back and went to sleep."
While there's something inherently heartbreaking about seeing people who were once national icons exposed and falling from grace, this is not the first time Hackett has slipped from the pedestal.