Mike Tancred, the long-serving Australian Olympic Committee director of media and communications, has temporarily stood down from his $320,000-a-year position, pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged workplace bullying.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the AOC announced:
"The AOC has this afternoon received notice from Mike Tancred that he is "standing down from (his) position of AOC Director of Media and Communications pending the outcome of any investigation of the complaint made against (him) by Fiona de Jong."
Over the weekend, Fairfax Media revealed that Tancred had been the target of a number of complaints, both formal and informal, from staff over a period of several years. In some of those cases, the staff ended up resigning.
The most high-profile AOC staffer to complain about Tancred was former chief executive Fiona de Jong. She resigned in October after the Rio Olympics, and has since described Tancred's aggressive response to her formal complaint as "blackmail and intimidation".
Fiona de Jong's full complaint can be read here, and it's eye-opening stuff. It details how her complaint about Tancred was submitted to AOC President John Coates on December 16, but has not yet been acted upon.
She writes of a "culture of bullying" at the AOC, and said that in her 12 years at the body, she was aware of at least 12 complaints related to bullying.
"During my time as CEO I fought hard to change the culture at the AOC, but was evidently unable to do so," she wrote.
This is a time of great turmoil for the Australian Olympic Committee. The organisation has its presidential election on May 6, and the 27-year tenure of long-serving AOC president John Coates is under serious threat for the first time.
Challenging Coates is hockey gold medallist from the 1996 Olympics and businesswoman Danni Roche. She has promised to take a fraction of the $700,000 salary earned by Coates.
Tancred is seen as a loyal Coates foot soldier, and most Olympic watchers believe he would be out of the picture anyway should the Roche challenge be successful.