Aussies banish coach Hollingsworth
10:50am Thursday 31st July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Athletics Australia's British head coach Eric Hollingsworth has been sent home from the Commonwealth Games after his outspoken attack on Olympic sprint hurdles champion Sally Pearson.
Hollingsworth labelled Pearson, who is the defending champion in Glasgow, a "bad example", highlighting his anger that she did not attend the team's pre-Games training camp.
Australian Commonwealth Games Association chef de mission Steve Moneghetti announced at a press conference on Thursday morning that Hollingsworth had been stripped of his accreditation and would travel back to Australia at the earliest opportunity.
Moneghetti said: "There was a breach in our team agreement with one of our members of the team, specifically the head coach of the athletics section.
"We invited that person in to explain that breach in the contract and we decided that there was reason enough to impost some sanctions on the actions taken by Eric Hollingsworth and we then spoke to the section manager from athletics to decide on an appropriate sanction.
"As a result of that Athletics Australia withdrew Eric's nomination as head coach of the athletics section of the Australia's Commonwealth Games team and this led to us revoking his accreditation. We've made arrangements for Eric to travel back to Australia at an appropriate time.
"He is going home today, if we can get some flights arranged. He will leave the Games in Glasgow as soon as it's logical and possible."
Pearson has arrived in Glasgow as the undoubted star of the Australia track and field team and looking to retain the 100 metres hurdles title she won in Delhi four years ago.
She was named athletics team captain for the Games, during which reports have emerged about her relationship with Hollingsworth breaking down.
Moneghetti claimed the 27-year-old had not been affected by the incident in the slightest.
"I saw her yesterday in the dining hall and she seemed pretty focused on her performance, she wasn't affected by it at all," he said.
"She was sitting there with her coach, talking about her preparation for the event, she's very relaxed. She's a consummate professional; I'm really happy with how she's coping and dealing with it."
Hollingsworth was at Hampden Park on Wednesday night to watch his athlete Sophie Stanwell finish fourth in the heptathlon.
"He was the appointed coach for Sophie so we let him compete his duties in that role before we affected the sanctions," said Moneghetti, who revealed Hollingsworth was "open and honest" in their brief meeting.
Former decathlete Hollingsworth, who joined Athletics Australia in 2009, criticised Pearson in a statement on Wednesday, saying: "Sally was coming (to the training camp) all along until the last minute when she opted to take a race in London.
"What's lost here is she's the team captain and there's a reasonable expectation she'd be in the camp ahead of something as major as the Commonwealth Games. Her no-show sets a bad example to the entire national team."
Hollingsworth, 51, circumvented his employers to release the statement. Before imposing the suspension, Hollingsworth's bosses said his thoughts should "in no way should it be read as the opinion of Athletics Australia".
Announcing his suspension in an official statement, Athletics Australia stated: "Athletics Australia is bitterly disappointed that Eric Hollingsworth has chosen to make a statement to the media at a time when our focus as a group should be wholly on supporting our athletes' performances.
"He acted without the authority of Athletics Australia and in contravention of the specific instructions of the chief executive officer.
"Athletics Australia condemns in the strongest terms his disparaging comments about Sally Pearson and his timing.
"We have therefore suspended Eric Hollingsworth as an employee of Athletics Australia until such time as the Athletics Australia board can convene to consider the matter.
"Action in regards to Eric Hollingsworth's role on the Commonwealth Games team will be determined by the Australian Commonwealth Games Association, as the body responsible for the team."
Pearson races in the third and final heat of the 100m hurdles on Thursday evening. The final takes place on Friday night and she is expected to battle for the gold with England's Tiffany Porter.