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PROTRACK » GENERAL » John Steffensen testing AOC on social media

John Steffensen testing AOC on social media

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1 John Steffensen testing AOC on social media on Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:42 pm



John Steffensen testing AOC on social media

by: Glenda Korporaal
From:The Australian
July 18, 201212:00AM

THE Australian Olympic Committee always knew that social media could be a potential nightmare during the London Games with the explosion in outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and blogging since the Beijing Olympics four years ago.

So concerned was it to set an example to the more than 400 athletes headed for London, it was prepared to sanction swimmers Nick D'Aarcy and Kenrick Monk weeks away from the Games over a puckish photo of themselves with firearms in a Los Angeles gunshop which was posted on Facebook.

It was an action which may have been a little silly but did not involve any disparagement of teammates or officials, nor any threats to not to compete during the Games.

Now the AOC is faced with an athlete, 29-year-old John Steffensen, who is aggressively twittering up a storm with his anger at Athletics Australia officials over the fact that he may not be selected to run the individual 400m, despite the fact that his 19-year-old rival for the spot, Steven Solomon, is in far better form.

. .
Steffensen has already threatened to boycott the 4x400m relay, an event which takes place in the final days of the Games, if he is not selected to compete in the individual 400 metre event which takes place a few days before.

Given his furious outbursts on Twitter and threats to boycott the relay, the issue has the potential to hang over the 50-strong Australian athletic team for the next few weeks, particularly the talented Solomon, who has already secured a scholarship for himself at Stanford University starting in September, and other members of the relay team.

The AOC months ago set out clear guidelines for athletes who blog or use Twitter - guidelines which Steffensen's furious tweeting would appear to fall foul of, at least in spirit.

The guidelines say: "It is entirely acceptable for a participant to do a personal posting, blog or tweet. However any such postings must be in a first person diary-type format, they must not report on competition or report on the activities of other accredited persons or organisation.

"Postings, blogs and tweets should at all times conform to the Olympic spirit and fundamental principles of Olympism as contained in the Olympic Charter, be dignified and in good taste and not contain vulgar or obscene words or images."

Steffensen, who was injured competing in the Stawell Gift earlier this year, hit out late last week on Twitter when he was told that Solomon would be getting the one spot available in the individual event, and directed his followers to the fact that he was about to speak out on Channel Nine.

Appearing on Nine, Steffensen accused Athletics Australia officials of racism and threatened to pull out of his spot in the 4x400m relay.

The new chef de mission of the Australian team, former rower Nick Green, has described Steffensen's words as "disappointing".

On being subsequently told that his name had been put down as a reserve for the spot for the individual race on Saturday August 4, a move which gives him breathing space to try to deliver an improved time between now and then, Steffensen appeared to soften his words .

But, on finding out that Athletics Australia chief Dallas O'Brien had told Fox News that Solomon indeed would be the one chosen to run in the 400m, Steffensen replied with another tirade on Twitter, saying: "Dallas u can't lie no more!" Save yourself n start telling the truth!"

He continued: "I dare someone to interview me and Dallas our CEO together! He would nerver (sic) do cause he knows would expose the lies."

Steffensen accused O'Brien of "putting a media gag" on Athleticss Australia high performance manager, Eric Hollingsworth, who appears to have gone out of his way to accommodate the volatile Steffensen, including working with Australian Olympic Committee official Fiona de Jong to have Steffensen named as a reserve, keeping his options open for selection in the individual event.

"Why you put a media gag on eric!!" Steffensen wrote on Twitter. "Let him tell the truth! Dallas dnt (sic) lie to the public u were on holiday and knew nothing u told me."

With the men's 4x400m relay an outside potential for a medal, Hollingsworth is understandably trying to give himself the option to field the best team possible in the relay but Steffensen's tweets have also confirmed the differences of opinion with Athletics Australia over the outspoken athlete.

And given Steffensen's tirades, the question still remains what will he do if he is not selected to run in the 400m and whether this issue will be allowed to hang over the team for the rest of the time they are in London?

Steffensen was part of the bronze medal 4x400m relay team in the Athens Games in 2004 but his form has declined since then.

He won the Olympic trials in Melbourne in the 400m in March but his subsequent injury in the Stawell Gift has slowed his times, while Solomon recently ran a personal best time of 45.52sec to win bronze at the World Junior Athletics competition in Barcelona.

Steffensen has been running almost a second slower in recent competitions but an athletics meeting in Monte Carlo on Friday night could provide another opportunity to show if his form has improved.

Steffensen has a history of clashes with athletics officials and outspoken comments.

He boycotted the 2010 Commonwealth Games after disputes with Athletics Australia officials.

He caused controversy earlier this year when he won a 400m race in Perth, declaring that the race was a "murder scene" and that people should call 000 for an ambulance to pick up his rivals, the "little boys" who had been left behind.

While his supporters declared that the US-based Steffensen was only joking, his comments provoked criticism from world hurdles champion Sally Pearson who said he was disparaging his teammates.

These are the same potential tea mates who may have to wait for the next few weeks to learn if Steffensen will decide to run with them in London, and if so will his views over his selection or non-selection for the individual event affect his performance and his attitudes to his teammates?

The issue is already proving to be a test case on the AOC's own social media guidelines and possibly a test of the mettle of Nick Green in his early days as chef de mission, following on in the footsteps of the more experienced AOC president, John Coates.

As for Solomon, he has retained a dignified silence on the matter.

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