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ASC edict: rowing 'not worried'

Rowing Australia is ''disappointed'' to be one of seven sports the Australian Sports Commission says will need to meet new governance standards or face losing up to 20 per cent of its funding.

RA chief executive Andrew Dee told The Canberra Times on Tuesday his sport had been meeting most of the new ASC requirements since 2005 when it undertook its own governance review.

But the ASC listed rowing, along with swimming, cycling, athletics, sailing, hockey and basketball, as a sport that would have to live up to new measures if they wanted to continue to receive the same level of government funding. The move comes in the wake of controversies in swimming and cycling, and follows Australia's slide to 10th on the medal tally at last year's London Olympics.

While Dee welcomed the announcement, he was disappointed with the perception rowing needed to lift its game.

''I'm disappointed it's come out that way,'' he said. ''I wouldn't like to think that we have anything for the commission, or anybody else, to be worried about.

''We accept we can always be more efficient - you always want to improve what you're doing - but all those mandatory requirements we're already meeting. It's just a matter of the way people are reading it.''

He said RA was not concerned by the threat of losing funding, confident very little change was required.

Dee said the RA board, through its constitution, was already accountable for everyone involved in the sport - coaches, athletes, sports scientists and medical staff.

''To be honest, the requirements the commission have announced today we're already complying with, so we're not at all concerned by it,'' Dee said.

While Dee said his sport's governance was already elite, Australian Olympic Committee boss John Coates said was about time sporting managers caught up with athletes in the race for excellence.

The ASC chose the seven sports because they get the most government funding.

''The ASC believes that the Australian public has the right to expect that sports receiving significant taxpayer funding will be well run,'' ASC chairman John Wylie said.

Coates said the approach was overdue.

''The threatened penalties for sports who do not comply may appear harsh but I urge those sports to adopt these reforms as soon as possible,'' he said.

''Taxpayers deserve to know they are getting bang for their buck when it comes to funding sport.''

After the London Games, Coates blamed some sporting administrators for failing to take ownership of the Olympic campaign, thereby contributing to the slip.

Swimming Australia last month released a damning report that found flaws in the sport's governance, separate from another report that was critical of the swim team's culture and leadership.

Cycling's Wood Review, released in January, also recommended fixing governance shortcomings in that sport.

That was why Dee took umbrage at rowing being mentioned - his organisation has required no such scrutiny.

Swimming Australia president Barclay Nettlefold said the organisation had committed to meeting the new standards.

''As a sport we must aim for best-practice governance and administration, and that will lead to creating the best environment for our elite athletes and coaches to succeed,'' he said.

Other peak sporting bodies and the federal government issued similar statements, saying they supported the move to enforce mandatory governance principles for sports getting more than $5 million a year from the ASC.

The ASC said the changes would create stronger links between performance and funding as it pushed for reforms, including better organisation structures and zero tolerance for lack of transparency about how sports spend their funding.

with AAP

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