Athletics Australia has launched a board level review into all aspects of the Commonwealth Games after the embarrassment of the Eric Hollingsworth affair.
Athletics Australia president David Grace QC has called on all athletes to put their names to specific claims rather than hiding behind anecdotes and innuendo in a survey that will be given to all athletes about the Games.
“It’s all very well for people to say ‘oh there are all these allegations around about Eric and all these incidents that have occurred in the past’ but unless people are prepared to put up, there is nothing we can do,” Grace said.
“We would hope that if there is any concern that any particular athlete has had for something that has occurred in the past that they will express it.”
He added: “This review will look at the whole of the team prep. Look at issues of management of athletes, the pre-camp, the concept of pre-camp, the selection of the team, all aspects."
He said the board would conduct the review with the high performance department.
Hurdles champion Sally Pearson savaged Hollingsworth after winning hurdles gold and defending her hurdles title, saying that when Hollingsworth lost her support, he had lost his last supporter among the athletes.
“It is really disappointing for a high performance coach to give so much relief to athletes when you walk out the door,” Pearson said. “Actually our whole room was very excited.”
Grace disputed that assessment saying other senior athletes had spoken in support of Hollingsworth and that the good things the suspended coach had done should not be overshadowed.
“Sally is entitled to her opinion and that is just one opinion and there are other contrary opinions and we will take into account all opinions. There are many athletes in the team who were very happy with the concept of the team camp and the compulsory nature of it."
Grace defended AA’s role in allowing the Hollingsworth-Pearson rift – which began after the Poland world championships in March when the pair stopped talking – saying it had been managed appropriately for months, but that arrangement broke down during the Games.
“We thought we had dealt with the Sally and Eric situation adequately, both parties were satisfied with the arrangement, maybe not happy but satisfied with the arrangement,” he said.
That arrangement broke down after the team camp at Gateshead, Newcastle, when Pearson fell out with high performance director Simon Nathan, the man she was arranged to deal with instead of Hollingsworth.
That breakdown followed the decision to dock Pearson preparation funding for failing to attend the team camp because she needed to race instead.
Grace in part defended that decision to dock Pearson and two other athletes - Benn Harradine and Alex Rowe - but said the issue of whether there should have been discretion in setting a deadline to attend the team camp would be part of the review.
“We have an open mind about it. It might not have been the best approach,” he said.
“Without discretion it’s easy to administer, once you have discretion you are always going to have people disgruntled whichever way it is exercised.”
Grace said Australia had enjoyed “a successful Games despite everything that has happened”.
“We have had nine fourth places - how many could have been converted? And then you are saying nine more medals, not including the walks, and conservatively we would have got at least four there so I think our performance at these game has been right up there.”
Australia won five gold and three bronze in track and field as well as two para gold and a silver. Australia’s target from the ASC was between 12 and 20 medals and between three and five para medals.
Grace said Australia had done well on the track and while he was disappointed with what had occurred away from the track -as the ASC would be - “we believe that our governance structures are such that we dealt with that appropriately”.
“I don’t see how the ASC given everything that has happened would be concerned with how the governance structure has operated,” he said.
Australia finished third on the athletics table behind Kenya and Jamaica.
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