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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Australian Sports Commission launches review of athletics

Australian Sports Commission launches review of athletics

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Australian Sports Commission launches review of athletics

By Michael Gleeson
Sports Writer for The Age
Date August 20, 2014

The Australian Sports Commission is poised to launch a swimming-type review of athletics in Australia after the dysfunctional off-track performance at the Commonwealth Games which culminated in the extraordinary public brawl between the head coach and Australia's best athlete.

The ASC, which almost entirely funds athletics in Australia, is expected to announce a broad-ranging review into the sport in the manner of that undertaken into swimming after the scandalous Stilnox drug use at the London Olympics.

The ASC review will not focus on the spectacularly public breakdown of the relationship between high-performance coach Eric Hollingsworth and world, Olympic and Commonwealth games gold medallist Sally Pearson which culminated in the coach being sent home. The ASC believes that was symptomatic of other issues in the sport.

The Pearson-Hollingsworth relationship breakdown and the issues of the high-performance department more broadly are the subject of a separate Athletics Australia board-level review.

"We are aware that Athletics Australia is doing an internal review of what happened at the Commonwealth Games and we think that is appropriate, but we think there are broader issues that may be holding back the success of athletics in Australia and sometimes these issues are best addressed by external boards and that may be best done by the Australian Sports Commission," ASC chairman John Wylie said.

"It would most likely be an independent review so it would be similar in character to what happened in swimming ... we are looking very closely at all the options at the moment.

"I think it's too early to be putting dates and deadlines and time-frames on this. We are still looking at all options and looking at the right way for a whole of sport review to be done. We need the board and the organisation structured in the right way to achieve success."

Wylie said structural issues of the sport such as the separation of Little Athletics from Athletics Australia and the separation of the track and field coaches' association from Athletics Australia were the types of issues to be addressed and it would not focus on personalities such as the Hollingsworth-Pearson incident.

"There are significant structural issues in the sport ... given the amount of taxpayer dollars being put into the sport, these are reasonable questions to be asked," Wylie said.

"We are absolutely committed to seeing the sport of athletics grow and improve and build on its success in Australia and we are keen to find ways to make that happen.

ASC chief executive Simon Hollingsworth said the commission found the athletics performance in Glasgow "frustrating" as the sport often struggled for a moment in the limelight and then when it had performances to be proud of at the games they were overshadowed by the Hollingsworth spat.

"These are issues that the ASC finds frustrating ... you see a sport that is not firing on all cylinders," said Simon Hollingsworth, who is not related to Eric Hollingsworth.

AA has already started its review of what happened in Glasgow and all issues relating to the structure of the high-performance department and how it broke down so spectacularly. AA board members Jan Swinhoe and Peter Bromley are conducting the review.

"Let's Go While We're Young"

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