The head coach of Australian athletics has been suspended after publicly criticising Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson and accusing her of setting a bad example to the Australian team a day before she begins the defence her title at the Commonwealth Games.

Eric Hollingsworth defied his bosses and released a statement to the media on Wednesday condemning Pearson's decision to miss a pre-tournament training camp with her team mates in Glasgow in favour of racing in London.

He also said the athlete, who won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, had not told the truth about the support she had received from the Australian team.

Hours after releasing his statement, Athletics Australia announced Hollingsworth's suspension, expressing disappointment at the timing of his comments, insisting he should be focusing on supporting the athletes instead.

"He acted without the authority of Athletics Australia and in contravention of the specific instructions of the Chief Executive Officer," Athletics Australia President David Grace said in a statement. "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."

Criticism

Earlier, Hollingsworth, a former Britain decathlete, accused Pearson of a lack of professionalism ahead of the Games.

"Sally was coming along until the last minute, when she opted to take a race in London," he said in a statement released via an independent public relations agency.

"What's lost here is that 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."

Source: Reuters