Coates stands firm despite criticism of AOC culture
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[August 24, 2017]
By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) - John Coates, the
long-serving President of the Australian Olympic Committee, refused
to accept any responsibility for flaws in the culture of the
organization outlined in a report released on Wednesday.
The Independent Cultural Review revealed that some AOC staff viewed
the organization as "dysfunctional" and had witnessed "'deceitful',
'two-faced', 'egotistic' and/or 'belligerent'" behavior from senior
Coates told a news conference that any misbehavior detailed in the
review was committed by others, many who were no longer at the AOC,
and he certainly would not be standing down from his position.
"Why should I resign?" the lawyer said at a news conference in
"There has been no confirmation of bullying. There has been some
criticism of the senior leaders -- I'm the president, I'm not the
senior leader that is being criticized.
"I'm president and there's been a succession of CEOs under me. I
have not swept anything under the carpet.
"There's plenty of acknowledgements (in the report) of the staff
having pride in me and what I have achieved for the Olympic
movement... and I'm happy to be judged on that."
The report said stakeholders perceived that Coates exercised
"overriding influence or control over the AOC".
Coates has presided over a difficult year for the AOC after a Rio
Olympics campaign that featured controversy away from the sporting
arena and disappointing results in it.
There followed a challenge to his presidency of the AOC, which he
has run for 27 years, sparked by a feud with Australian Sports
Commission chief John Wylie.
Coates successfully quashed that challenge in May but
his media director Mike Tancred was stood down and reprimanded
during the campaign after being found guilty of "disreputable
conduct" towards former chief executive Fiona de Jong.
[to top of second column]
John Coates, President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC),
and Matt Carroll, AOC's Chief Executive Officer, listen to Ian
Chesterman, Australia's chef de mission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic
Games, as he speaks during a media conference in Sydney, Australia,
August 24, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray
That led to a string of bullying allegations appearing in the media
and resulted in the commissioning of the review by the Sydney-based
Ethics Centre, which suggested the AOC needed to modernize.
"I'm very with pleased with this report because the first
recommendation addresses the big issue for us because that addresses
the governance model," the International Olympic Committee
"We need to assess if it is fit for purpose for an organization like
New chief executive Matt Carroll said the AOC would implement all 17
recommendations of the review, which presented the body with a
"platform to reset the organization".
Coates also announced that Australia would have a new Chef de
Mission for the third straight Summer Olympics with Ian Chesterman,
who has led six Winter Olympic teams, replacing Kitty Chiller for
Chiller, who in turn replaced 2012 team leader Nick Green, had
informed the AOC she did not want to continue in the role two weeks
ago, Coates confirmed.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Peter Rutherford/John
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