Eddie McGuire isn’t known for responding well to criticism, and Athletics Australia has come in for an all-time grilling as a result after former Olympian Tamsyn Manou (nee Lewis) took a ‘tongue-in-cheek’ swipe at the Collingwood president.
Discussing McGuire’s war of words and exchanged accusations of conflicts of interest between himself and Geelong counterpart Colin Carter, Manou suggested it was the Magpies boss’ whose own compromised position had set Australian Athletics back.
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Manou, a triple Commonwealth Games gold medallist, told the Herald Sun it was McGuire’s dual roles as Collingwood president and Athletics Australia board member had set elite athletics back.
“I don’t like to call Eddie out because obviously he’s very powerful in the sporting world, but tongue in cheek I would say I think a bigger conflict of interest (than Carter’s) would be us losing Olympic Park,” she said.
“That was a huge conflict for people who were on the Athletics Australia board at the time that were very heavily involved at Collingwood.
“And you know what, well done to them because they got what they wanted, but we were stupid in track and field and didn’t stand our ground and fight harder to hold onto that track.”
Eddie McGuire hits back after Tamsyn Manou call-out
In typical McGuire fashion, while he acknowledged Manou’s record as a competitor, the Collingwood boss was less than thrilled to be called out.
Asked about Manou’s comments on Triple M breakfast radio, McGuire was unequivocal in his criticism of Athletics Australia, arguing years of mis-management had resulted in endless mediocre results from Australian track and field stars.
“Tamsyn Manou had a crack yesterday – fair dinkum,” McGuire said.
“Yes, the demise of athletics as a sport is because they’re not at Olympic Park anymore.
"Nothing to do with systematic drug cheating throughout the whole industry over the last 25 years"— MMM's Hot Breakfast (@mmmhotbreakfast) May 27, 2020
Eddie explained why Athletics Australia really had to move and why relocating shouldn't be blamed for the industries fall. https://t.co/VfL7KLp2pL
“Nothing to do with systematic drug cheating throughout the whole industry over the last 25 years or the fact that their governing officers, the IOC, most of them are in jail over the last period of time.
“I feel for Tamsyn though … she ran in the semi-finals so often and just did such a great job.
“The great thing about Tamsyn is that she just turned up in Australia and ran all the time, unlike a lot of her compatriots who didn’t turn up for the Australian summers and ran, literally and figuratively, the competition and the interest in the sport into an all-time low.”
After Manou described the training facilities at Albert Park as ‘soulless’, McGuire argued that, had he not intervened, track and field stars would be training on the outskirts of Melbourne in far less suitable conditions.
McGuire said Athletics Australia was losing money on Olympic Park before the Magpies took over, and that they risked being forced out of the precinct altogether after Lachlan Murdoch got involved.
“I had a contract that said Collingwood’s ground could be no further from where that was, so it was either going to be built across the road at the Tennis Centre or on the athletics track,” he said.
“Athletics was going to be shunted out to Doncaster or even to Aberfeldie where there’s two tracks – and we fought really hard and got a fantastic facility with the VIS down there at Albert Park, it was a pretty good deal from a very low base.
“If people want to say I’ve played a major role in facilitating the best sports entertainment precinct probably in the world – and a second one down there in Albert Park – I’ll cop it.”