Redhead Surf Life Saving Club have suspended three members for a year for bringing the club into disrepute after an incident at the national titles last month in Western Australia.
Redhead president Michael McKey confirmed the club had imposed the ban at a judiciary hearing on the weekend of May 5-6 but he declined to name the trio or detail their offence.
The Herald understands ironmen Isak Costello and Justin McMorland and masters competitor and coach Nathan Stewart were the three suspended. Costello and McMorland, both national age champions, have competed on the Ocean6 and Summer of Surf series and featured in finals against the ironman elite.
Both will now be unable to compete for, train with or be part of any club for 12 months. The ban has been backdated to the incident, just before the national open titles at Scarborough Beach. Stewart competed earlier in the masters division.
McKey said Redhead handled the disciplinary action while in contact with state, national and Hunter bodies.
“There weren't any police involved. It was just a case of young blokes being young blokes,” McKey said. “We obviously need to be careful when we've got young people in the club and we need to set an example and that's the course we took.
“Surf Life Saving NSW are aware of everything we've done. It was a club process but we kept them in the loop. Rumours get around and we wanted to make sure that we acted in an appropriate way, and they agreed with what we did.
“One of our blokes was on the ground over there talking to SLS Australia and we've been talking to NSW and branch, so we've been fully transparent in that regard to surf lifesaving."
Asked about the trio’s offence and their identities, McKey said he would prefer not to go into detail but conceded “the rumour mill was in overdrive”.
“We took the view we weren't going to say too much about the details, but obviously surf club being surf club, everyone knows everyone. It's hard to keep that secret. It was bringing the club into disrepute with their actions. It was before the titles started and we acted fairly quickly and sent them back."
He said those suspended “didn't hide behind anything. They aimed up and showed a great deal of remorse” at the hearing.
“Obviously we were concerned with welfare and we want to try to repatriate them back into the movement, whether it's at our club or another,” he said. “They are young blokes and have done the wrong thing but I think they've got a bit to offer the club, surf lifesaving and the community and hopefully they can learn by it.”
The Herald tried to gain comment from Costello, McMorland and Stewart.
Surf Life Saving NSW said Redhead had “managed the disciplinary process in line with SLSA regulations” and it supported “the appropriate penalty”. It also said “to date, SLSNSW is unaware of any appeal lodged by the individuals involved.”
“Disciplinary proceedings were appropriately handled by the club and there has been no requirement for SLSNSW or SLSA to take additional action or intervene during the process,” a statement read.
“Individuals who have their membership suspended are free to appeal the decision through the normal appeals process.”
The full SLSNSW statement below:
“SLSA and SLSNSW were both made aware of a disciplinary matter involving several members of Redhead SLSC, prior to the Australian Championships in Perth. As is appropriate, the club managed the disciplinary process in line with SLSA Regulations and has since informed the Hunter Branch of a 12 month suspension of the individuals.
“The outcome of the proceedings is that these individuals are suspended from membership of the organisation at all levels (club, branch, state and national) for a 12-month period. They are unable to join another club or participate in any Surf Life Saving competition, including the Ocean6 series.
“The Hunter Branch and Surf Life Saving NSW supports the club’s determination of the appropriate penalty to apply in these circumstances.
“Disciplinary proceedings were appropriately handled by the club and there has been no requirement for SLSNSW or SLSA to take additional action or intervene during the process.
“Individuals who have their membership suspended are free to appeal the decision through the normal appeals process. To date, SLSNSW is unaware of any appeal lodged by the individuals involved.”