AOC to meet in wake of bullying allegations


MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) is to hold a "crisis meeting" this week after allegations of bullying were levelled against a senior executive, local media reported on Monday.

Former CEO Fiona de Jong, who departed the AOC in December, confirmed to local media she had made a formal complaint against the AOC's media and communications director Mike Tancred.

Tancred declined to comment when contacted by Reuters about the allegations, which have emerged three weeks before the AOC's presidential election at the annual general meeting on May 6.

State media ABC reported on Monday the AOC's board would meet this week after a number of its members expressed concerns about "significant reputational damage" to the Committee.

An AOC spokesperson confirmed the meeting to Australian Associated Press but provided no details.

Tancred is a long-serving lieutenant to AOC President John Coates, who will contest the election for one of Australia's top jobs in sport against board member and Olympic hockey gold medallist Danni Roche.

The election marks the first leadership challenge to Coates since he assumed the role in 1990.

An International Olympic Committee vice president and one of the most powerful sports administrators in the world, Coates has been embroiled in a public feud with the Australian Sports Commission, a government agency that disburses sports funding.

De Jong complained that the AOC was dragging its heels on an investigation into her complaint.

Ryan Wells, another former AOC staffer, detailed a separate allegation of bullying against Tancred when working in its media department in 2004.

He said he was made redundant six months after making a complaint.

In a Monday editorial, the Sydney Morning Herald called for change at the AOC.

"The allegations of a bullying and toxic culture under Mr Coates' watch at the organisation have reached a critical mass," it said, adding that in any other field "the doubts over Mr Coates would destroy his chances" of extending his reign.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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