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PROTRACK » GENERAL » Eric Hollingsworth quits as Buchanan to head review of AA

Eric Hollingsworth quits as Buchanan to head review of AA

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Banished athletics coach Eric Hollingsworth quits

By Michael Gleeson
Sydney Morning Herald
September 3, 2014 - 6:35PM

Australia's banished athletics coach Eric Hollingsworth is understood to have fallen on his sword and quit after being asked why he should not be sacked following the Sally Pearson fiasco at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Hollingsworth's resignation is expected to be announced on Thursday after he officially tendered his resignation to chief executive Dallas O'Brien and President David Grace QC on Wednesday.

Hollingsworth was contracted until the end of October and he is likely to be paid until then though his resignaton is effective immediately. Given the nature of the incident prompting his resignation, it is expected non-disparagement clauses have been included in the resignation settlement.

Hollingsworth was sensationally sent home from Glasgow after he issued a media release criticising Australia's world and Olympic hurdles champion Sally Pearson hours before she was due to defend her Commonwealth Games gold medal.

Hollingsworth accused her of being a bad example to younger athletes by failing to attend the pre-games camp in the UK. He ignored a direct instruction from Athletics Australia not to comment on the matter and employed his own media relations firm to issue the release.

After she ran and won gold in Glasgow, Pearson unloaded on the national high performance coach claiming he had alienated himself from the athletes and that all athletes in Glasgow had cheered on learning the coach had been sent home to Australia.

Peason and Hollingsworth had fallen out in March after he confronted her and strongly criticised her after she won silver at the world indoor championships in Poland.

Athletics Australia has commenced a review of what occurrred in Glasgow and the Australian Sports Comission has also indicated it will launch its own review.

Last edited by Admin on Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:25 am; edited 1 time in total


Buchanan to head independent review into Athletics Australia

Nicole Jeffrey
The Australian
September 04, 2014

FORMER Australian cricket coach John Buchanan will head an independent review of Athletics Australia prompted by a Commonwealth Games campaign in which head coach Eric Hollingsworth was sent home for publicly criticising team captain Sally Pearson.

Hollingsworth is understood to have resigned from his post and could announce the move as early as today with a non-disparagement clause included in the terms of his departure.

Athletics Australia announced its own review of the Glasgow campaign (to be led by former head coach Chris Wardlaw) immediately after the Games but the Australian Sports Commission is not content to let the sport investigate itself. Several of the presidents of state athletics associations had also called for an independent review.

Like swimming in the aftermath of the London Olympics, athletics will be subject to two reviews over the next three months.

Buchanan, who was also appointed last week to review the NRL’s refereeing system, will lead a panel including Olympian and national selector Melinda Gainsford-Taylor, Australian Institute of Sport director Matt Favier, senior Victorian public servant and former Australian representative athlete Lynne Williams, and investment banker and former athlete Mark Bartels. The former cricket coach seems to have become the go-to man for sports taking a hard look at some of their structures.

The ASC review will be much broader in scope than Wardlaw’s review, which will focus on the Glasgow campaign and the Australian team structure and management.

The sport was mired in controversy in Glasgow from the moment it emerged that three athletes, including Pearson, would be fined for not arriving at the ­national team camp by the due date. It was then plunged into crisis when the bad blood between Hollingsworth and Pearson was exposed.

AA and Hollingsworth are negotiating over the terms of his departure from the sport.

However, ASC president John Wylie said the “systemic issues” facing the sport ran deeper than the running of the national team and included high performance, governance and participation.

Wylie was deeply disappointed last year when his attempts to mediate an agreement between AA and Little Athletics to become one organisation, fell apart. He believes strongly that the sport can only thrive when it is fully united.

The review’s priorities will include achieving “unity of purpose and structure for the whole sport’’. Areas under investigation will include the structure of the high-performance program, the dropout rate of teenage athletes, participation pathways, competition structures and commercial ­viability. “We encourage all stakeholders in athletics to participate in this review with an open mind and a willingness to embrace change, ’’ Wylie said.

He hopes the review will be as successful in turning the sport around as the swimming process appears to have been. The Buchanan review is expected to report back by the end of the year.

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