AOC media chief steps down, heat on Coates

SYDNEY • Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) head John Coates is facing a push to oust him after 27 years, with his media chief stepping down yesterday amid bullying claims rocking the organisation.

Coates has never been challenged, but Olympic hockey gold medallist and businesswoman Danni Roche wants his job, and reportedly has significant backing.

She claims the administration is dictatorial and bloated. She plans to cut costs and redirect money to athletes and underfunded sports.

One contentious point is the annual wage of more than A$700,000 (S$732,000) of a man seen as one of the most powerful figures in world sport, courtesy of being an International Olympic Committee vice-president and chairman of the co-ordination committee of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Roche, 47, has pledged to slash the salary to A$100,000 if she gets the job. A secret ballot of summer and winter sports representatives will take place on May 6 for a new four-year term for the presidency.

Allegations of bullying have been splashed across Australia's front pages, mostly linked to Coates' right-hand man and media chief Mike Tancred.

One of the claims came from former AOC chief executive Fiona de Jong, who alleged Tancred issued a "highly detailed and personal threat" against her and that Coates did nothing.

Yesterday, Fairfax Media reported that Tancred harassed another former staffer for taking two days off during the 2008 Beijing Olympics due to a miscarriage.

He has denied any wrongdoing but in a statement the AOC said Tancred was "standing down from (his) position... pending the outcome of an investigation".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2017, with the headline 'AOC media chief steps down, heat on Coates'. Print Edition | Subscribe