Updated: 07/31/2014 02:58 | By Agence France-Presse

Australia suspend head coach over Pearson comments

The Australian athletics federation on Wednesday suspended head coach Eric Hollingsworth for disparaging comments he made about the team's star hurdler Sally Pearson.


Australia suspend head coach over Pearson comments

Australia's Silver medalist Sally Pearson celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the women's 100 metres hurdles at the 2013 IAAF World Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on August 18, 2013 - by Yuri Kadobnov

Hollingsworth said in a bizarrely timed, outspoken statement that Pearson, the defending Olympic and Commonwealth champion, had been a bad example to younger athletes by not appearing at the team camp in Gateshead last week.

"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," said AA president David Grace.

"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."

According to Australian press reports, Hollingsworth and Pearson had a falling-out after the world indoor championships in Poland in March, when the hurdler won silver, and have not talked since.

Pearson, who also won outdoor gold in Daegu in 2011 and silver last year in Moscow, also had part of her funding docked because of her decision not to attend the team's camp.

In his statement, Hollingsworth said: "Sally was coming 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."

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