(Sports) Australian athletics in turmoil as coach resigns, review commissioned

(Sports) Australian athletics in turmoil as coach resigns, review commissioned

CANBERRA, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Australian Sports Commission on Thursday announced to launch a review into the country's sport of athletics, after the commission's head coach resigned.

The review will attempt to pinpoint reasons why Australia has continually fallen short of expectations in track and field events at both the Olympic Games and world championships.

Eric Hollingsworth, Athletic Australia's controversial head coach, quit on Wednesday, weeks after he was sent home in disgrace from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Hollingsworth tendered his resignation after being asked why he should not be sacked from the role.

In Glasgow, Hollingsworth issued a media release only hours before star hurdler Sally Pearson was due to defend her Games 100m hurdles title which labeled Pearson a "bad example" for missing a pre-Games training camp.

In the fallout, it emerged that Hollingsworth's behavior throughout his tenure had divided the athletics team. Some athletes estimated he was on speaking terms with less than 20 percent of the team.

Those claims were echoed by Ray Boyd, an 11-time pole vault national champion and father to current athlete, Alana.

"He has slowly ostracized everybody that he's ever come close to," Boyd said.

Athletics Australia confirmed the resignation with a brief statement on their website.

"Athletics Australia on Sept. 3, 2014 accepted Eric Hollingsworth's resignation as Head Coach," it said. "We wish Eric all the best for the future."

ASC chairman John Wylie said there were many aspects of Athletics Australia that were far from elite.

"While there were some fantastic performances at the recent Commonwealth Games, there are a number of systemic issues facing athletics across high performance, governance and participation that warrant an independent review," Wylie said.

The ASC has appointed former Australian cricket coach John Buchanan to head the review. Wylie pointed to the success of a post-London Olympics review of Swimming Australia.

"The turnaround and change in culture in Australian swimming evident at the Glasgow Games which followed the 2013 Independent Smith Review, instigated by the ASC, shows how quickly positive change can occur with the right mindset," said Wylie.

President of Athletics Australia David Grace added: "Athletics Australia welcomes this review, which we see as assisting the sport to create a blueprint for its future direction and development. The board, executive and member associations of Athletics Australia will give full co-operation to the review which will also incorporate the views of all relevant stakeholders. "

Key areas identified for review are the fragmented and complicated governance structures (21 in total), a lack of common purpose and cohesion at the elite level and the relatively stagnant junior participation numbers at a time when participation in other sports is growing strongly.

Grace said Buchanan was a good fit to change Australia's premier athletics body: "John Buchanan is eminently qualified to lead this work having held a variety of roles in international cricket, most notably as the incredibly successful Australian national team coach between 1999 and 2007."

Triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tamsyn Manou called for a review in July when a complaint she made against Hollingsworth was made public.

Manou made an official complaint against Hollingsworth in 2012 after the coach allegedly verbally abused her during a meeting.

"Our sport is in the hands of dictators, not communicators. For the benefit of the athletes, there needs to be an external investigation," she said. "The Australian Sports Commission needs to get involved."

The review panel will include former athletes from all disciplines and Director of the Australian Institute of Sport Matt Favier.

It will report by the end of 2014 to the ASC.