Kyle Chalmers says he feels victimised and almost quit swimming because of a media smear campaign based on a fake love triangle.
The Australian swim star has accused media of using him for “clickbait” by publishing stories about his relationships with Emma McKeon and Cody Simpson.
Chalmers and McKeon dated last year but have broken up, with McKeon now the partner of Simpson.
“It’s all just false news that is actually just crap, it’s honestly just a load of shit that is not true,” Chalmers told reporters on Saturday night.
The three swimmers are competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
Chalmers and McKeon won gold as part of Australia’s 4x100m freestyle mixed relay team on Friday night.
But some tabloid reports centred on Chalmers, painted as a jilted lover, supposedly ignoring McKeon in post-race celebrations.
“I definitely said congratulations,” Chalmers said. “If you watch the race back I actually walk up and say good job across the pool.”
“He did [offer congratulations],” she said after winning another gold on Australia’s women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team.
Chalmers on Saturday night also won gold as part of Australia’s men’s 4x100m freestyle team.
His swim helped earn Simpson a gold medal too – the celebrity swimmer will get a gold for being a heat swimmer in the event.
“I say good luck to Cody, I say good job to Cody, I sent him a message after the race,” Chalmers said. “I do nothing but be as positive as I possibly can.
“I support him on the team but, again, people just want clickbait on the article. It’s unfortunate that I can’t do anything right at this point in time.
“I think it’s fantastic that he’s here … it’s fantastic for our sport, it brings new viewers in. What he has achieved in two years of swimming is incredible.”
Chalmers said the media attention was impacting his mental health.
“You guys [media] don’t actually realise the impact you have on athletes, when we’re standing up to perform for not only ourselves but our country, you guys can affect a lot,” he said.
“And for me after trials I actually really sat down and assessed if I was going to continue on the sport, because for me I had given everything to this country, I have given everything to my sport … instead of focusing on the positives, you guys want to focus on the negatives again.
“You can try and bring me down all you want but it’s only going to last so long and I will stop talking to the media.”