Athletes Allege Aussie Federation Trying to Silence them

:eek: By Sharon Mathieson
CANBERRA, March 14 AAP - Athletics Australia isallegedly considering fining athletes who continue tocriticise the sport’s beleaguered administration.
Sprinter Lauren Hewitt said AA’s chief executive SimonAllatson has called for athletes to be punished forbringing the sport into disrepute, adopting a similarpolicy to that used by most football codes.
Allatson would not comment on the plan today, sayingit was a Sunday and not a day to be talking to themedia.
Simon has now come out and said athletes should befined if they speak out to the media,'' Hewitt said. I find that quite ironic. He was trying to relate itto the AFL football and cricket clubs.
They're under contract and not allowed to sayanything negative about their sport, which is fine, butthey're on a minimum of $30,000 a year. It’s a little bit different than a couple of physiosand a couple of airfares from Athletics Australia.’’
Hewitt has been outspoken in her recent criticism ofthe sport’s governing body, wrapping up the nationalchampionships in Sydney last month by calling forAllatson to resign and questioning where he wasdirecting funds after it was revealed AA accumulateddebts of $1.3 million.
It was the latest in a long-running feud withinathletics ranks, which included coach Nic Bideau callingfor the entire board top be sacked and distance runningcoach Said Aouita threatening to quit the country andaccusing Australia’s head coach Keith Connor of being acontrol freak.
In response to the public squabbles, federal SportsMinister Rod Kemp announced earlier this month AA wouldbe reviewed by the Australian Sports Commission.
Hewitt welcomed the review but said it must be headedby an independent person who would allow submissionsfrom athletes and state athletics federations.
She said in the meantime Allatson should turn hisfocus to attracting young athletes to the sport andlifting its public profile.
All this stuff about us not being able to speak tothe media, that's just trying to dodge the issue,''Hewitt said. I don’t really know how willing he is to accept someof the responsibility and until that’s done by him andthe board then I can’t see that the sport’s going to goforward in a positive way.’’
She said athletes approached AA chairman AndrewForrest in September last year with their concerns butthey were brushed aside.
We don't want to say negative things about our sporteither but we felt that something needed to be done,''Hewitt said. It’s not just me that has these feelings it’s themajority of elite athletes that have been reallycomplaining on how the domestic season was run allyear.’’
She said athletes concerns included AA’s failure tosecure television rights for the nationals, which doubleas the Olympic selection trials, and its unwillingnessto lure international stars to Australia to give localathletes competition.

Athletics Australia can go to hell if they fine anyone for speaking their mind. What an arrogant bunch of …

Is it time to put the hand up to get Frank Lowy and John O’Neill on board once they have fixed Australian soccer. Just may take a while.