According to a story posted in last weekend’s The Sunday Telegraph in Sydney, and also reported on insidethegames.biz, a number of Australian coaches were “approached to manipulate the results of qualifying races.”
Australia managed to qualify the maximum number of athletes to the Tokyo Olympics – three men and women. Both the men’s and women’s team nailed the final spots during the last weekend of qualification.
Three coaches independently told the Sunday Telegraph that “they were told by Triathlon Australia that they only wanted certain athletes to win qualifying races in the lead-up to Tokyo so they could boost their rankings and secure the extra quota spots.”
Triathlon Australia denies the accusations: “No race results are predetermined, particularly in an open, international field,” the organization told The Sunday Telegraph. “As with all sport, athletes must perform to win. However, Triathlon Australia unashamedly maximised its opportunity to qualify its quota of athletes through specific race scheduling. Many sports make strategic decisions that are a part of competition and fall within the fabric of sport and fair play. It would be an expectation that Australian teams consider a strategic approach to competition scheduling.”
Australia had a tough time at the Olympics, with the highest placing in the individual racing going to Jacob Birtwhistle, who finished 16th. The mixed relay team finished ninth.
Two-time world champion Emma Carney has been particularly outspoken about Triathlon Australia, who have suspended the 1994 and 1997 world champ.
Inside the Games reports that the association reached out to its members with the following statement:
“Since this concerted campaign of destabilisation began, Triathlon Australia has repeatedly offered to meet with the former elite triathlete to provide an opportunity to discuss their concerns directly, but all of these offers have been rejected,” Triathlon Australia wrote.
“In addition, we have respected the independent processes that have been undertaken as a result of these serious allegations, and we have undertaken our own internal reviews, choosing to remain respectfully silent whilst these processes were undertaken.”