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Fresh allegations emerge about athletics coach Eric Hollingsworth

Date

Sam McClure

Eric Hollingsworth.

Eric Hollingsworth. Photo: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Athletics heavyweights have demanded an external investigation into the sport's peak body as fresh allegations emerge about axed coach Eric Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth was sensationally sent home from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after he labelled champion runner Sally Pearson a "bad example" for missing the team's pre-Games training camp. 

But it appears Hollingsworth's comment was the tip of the iceberg. 

It has been learnt that triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist Tamsyn Manou made an official complaint against Hollingsworth in 2012 for allegedly referring to her as c--- in a meeting.

Manou was not present at the meeting but filed an official complaint to Athletics Australia upon hearing the allegation.

Tim O'Shaughnessy, who was then a middle-distance coach, confirmed the comment to Athletics Australia chief executive Dallas O'Brien.

But the complaint was thrown out. 

"I told the CEO what I recalled," O'Shaughnessy said. "What I was told by Athletics Australia is that no one else in the meeting could recall what happened." 

Later that year, O'Shaughnessy was made redundant after Hollingsworth told the board he wanted to move in another direction. 

"He didn't like me, I knew that," O'Shaughnessy said.  ''There should absolutely be an external review, not internal.

''There's people inside the organisation who may not feel comfortable talking about certain instances with internal people." 

Hollingsworth was hired by Danny Corcoran and given a two-year contract extension just before Corcoran left Athletics Australia for the Essendon Football Club. 

Manou said she felt the problem runs deeper than just the coach. 

"Our sport is in the hands of dictators, not communicators. For the benefit of the athletes, there needs to be an external investigation," she said.

"The Australian Sports Commission needs to get involved.

"The investigation must be external and we must change this bullying environment to one of inclusion and support.”

Manou’s comments have been echoed by Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ray Boyd.

Boyd, an 11-time Australian champion in pole vault, won gold in the 1982 Games and has a daughter, Alana, who competed at the Glasgow Games. 

“He has slowly ostracised everybody that he’s ever come close to,” he said.

Boyd believes people have been complaining about Hollingsworth for several years, but nothing was ever done about it. 

“He must’ve been protected,” Boyd said. “All the kids can’t make a complaint because they know it will come back to bite them in the backside."

Athletics Australia has been contacted for comment.

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