AOC lays down law on coach appointment

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has moved to block the prospect of Athletics Australia appointing Canadian Kevin Tyler – a former training partner of the disgraced Ben Johnson – as its new head coach.

Tyler – who denied accusations given under oath by his then coach Charlie Francis that he took performance-enhancing drugs in the 1980s while a top-level sprinter and bobsledder – was on a shortlist of six to replace the controversial Eric Hollingsworth as Australian coach.

He was never convicted of any doping offences and insisted he never knowingly took any banned substances.

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But AOC president John Coates said on Thursday if Athletics Australia (AA) went ahead and offered the job to Tyler, he would be barred from any official role at next year’s Rio Olympics.

“At its meeting today, the AOC Executive resolved to inform Athletics Australia that it will decline to appoint Kevin Tyler as an official of the 2016 Australian Olympic Team if nominated by Athletics Australia,” Coates said in a statement.

“The AOC has no further comment.”

Tyler was the head of coaching and development for UK Athletics at the London Olympics and is currently working as the head track and field coach at Oklahoma University.

The other candidates still in the frame to replace Hollingsworth include Australians Nic Bideau and Craig Hilliard.

Bideau is a previous coach of Cathy Freeman and Craig Mottram, while Hilliard is the high performance coach of the Australian Institute of Sport.

The AA board has yet to decide who will be the new head coach.

“If we had done so, we would have made an announcement,” said interim chief executive Phil Jones.

“A number of candidates remain as contenders for the position.

“We are continuing a very extensive due diligence process that has included consultation with stakeholders including the Australian Sports Commission, the Australian Olympic Committee and the Australian Commonwealth Games Association.

“At Athletics Australia’s request, as part of our due diligence process, the AOC Executive determined that if asked, they will decline to appoint Kevin Tyler as an official of the 2016 Australian Olympic Team.

“With this outcome in mind, Athletics Australia will continue the due diligence process for the other five candidates currently being considered and we will only make a decision on the Head Coach position after we have completed the thorough process currently underway.”

The messy situation rekindled memories of AA’s ill-fated attempt back in 1997 to appoint Ekkart Arbeit – a central figure in the systemic sports doping program by East Germany in the 1970s and 1980s – as Australian head coach.

That decision was overturned following a furious backlash from past and present Australian athletes, politicians and sports officials.

Arbeit was later found to have been a spy for the East German secret police.

AA has been searching for a new coach since parting ways with Hollingsworth in the wake of the shambolic Glasgow Commonwealth Games campaign.

Hollingsworth unloaded on Olympic and world champion Sally Pearson on the eve of her 100m hurdles title defence, saying she had set a bad example to the entire national team after skipping a pre-Games training camp in England.

Dallas O’Brien also resigned as AA chief executive in the wake of the Glasgow Games, with his position being filled on an interim basis by Jones.


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