Field hockey coach quits after reports of team dysfunction

·2 min read

PERTH, Australia (AP) — The head coach of the Australian women’s field hockey team has quit just four months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics after an independent review found a “dysfunctional culture” existed within the program.

Paul Gaudoin, who won bronze medals with the Australian men’s team in 1996 at Atlanta and Sydney in 2000, announced his resignation late Wednesday after Hockey Australia received the results of the review, which will not be released publicly.

Last year there were allegations of bullying, body shaming and homophobic behavior within the women’s team. High performance manager Toni Cumpston quit in January after stating she had lost the support of the Hockey Australia board. Assistant coach Steph Andrews and selector Sharon Buchanan also resigned.

Gaudoin, who was appointed coach in 2016, had been criticized for missing a series of player meetings. His decision to drop two veteran players from the 2021 contract list also caused a player revolt, with some threatening to strike.

Hockey Australia said the independent review had been “confronting and distressing.”

“Broadly the review found a dysfunctional culture within the National Women’s High Performance Program that is not conducive to athlete well-being or sustained on-field success, and identified numerous areas for improvement,” it said. “While we have made a considerable investment over the last three years . . . this has not been enough to prevent rupturing of the squad’s cohesion."

Assistant coach Katie Allen has been appointed interim head coach, with Hockey Australia planning to quickly find a permanent candidate to lead the team into the Tokyo Games.

Other Olympic sports have also seen allegations of bullying in the past several years. Among them, British Gymnastics is reviewing its policies after some former athletes complained of bullying and an “abuse culture” in the sport.

And members of South Korea’s popular women’s curling team, which won a silver medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, accused their coaches of workplace bullying, including verbal abuse.

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