AOC chief Coates faces rare challenge to role
SYDNEY (Reuters) - John Coates is facing a challenge to his role as Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) chief for the first time since winning the presidency in 1990, with hockey gold medallist Danni Roche calling for an overhaul of the organisation's leadership.
Roche, who won gold with the Hockeyroos at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was nominated by her sport on Monday to contest the election at the AOC's Annual General Meeting on May 6.
The 66-year-old Coates, an IOC vice president and one of the most influential sports administrators in the world, is reported to have a rocky relationship with other Australian sports leaders and Roche said her goal would be to build bridges.
"The Australian Olympic Committee needs new leadership," Roche said in launching her election platform on Monday.
"It needs make sure that every available resource is directed to sports and athletes.
"It needs to lead a new culture of collaboration in Australian sport."
Roche, 46, has spent her career in the finance sector and said she would reduce the AOC's administrative costs to 30 percent of revenue and shift that funding back towards sports.
She said she would also look to reduce the salary paid to the president to A$100,000 a year -- Coates reportedly receives more than A$700,000 -- though she would not take one herself.
She also said she would introduce term limits for AOC members and try to repair its rocky relationship with the country's top sports funding body, the Australian Sports Commission (ASC).
Coates criticised the ASC's Winning Edge funding model last year during the Rio Games and attacked the leadership of several sports organisations -- notably swimming and cycling -- labelling them as failed corporate models of sports governance.
The attack reportedly led to a feud between Coates and other Australian sports leaders, including ASC chairman John Wylie, according to local media.
The AOC said on Monday that feud had led to Roche's candidacy.
"Wylie is a businessman from Melbourne who is leading a push to have Coates removed as AOC president at the annual meeting on May 6," AOC head of communications Mike Tancred wrote in an editorial column published in The Australian newspaper.
Tancred said Coates had been hoping to make the election his last and find his successor from the new executive board.
"Like any businessman who has spent years creating a successful company, Coates is not prepared to simply hand it over to the first Tom, Dick, Harry, Janet or Tracey who comes along," Tancred added.
"This point is sadly lost on Wylie and other detractors."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)