Australian Olympic staffer steps down pending investigation

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SYDNEY (AP) The Australian Olympic Committee's media director has stood down pending an investigation into allegations of bullying that have surfaced during an acrimonious contest for the organization's presidency.

Longtime media and communications director Mike Tancred has denied the allegations made by former AOC chief executive Fiona de Jong but said Wednesday he would step aside until the matter has been resolved.

His decision was announced hours before the AOC executive board held an extraordinary meeting to discuss recent issues, including the vote for president in which John Coates is being challenged for the first time in 27 years.

After the meeting, the AOC confirmed the process to assess De Jong's complaint was started last year.

In a brief statement, the AOC's executive committee said it would establish an independent committee comprising three senior lawyers or retired judges - including at least one woman - to deal with the matter.

It also plans to commission an independent review, overseen by the new chief executive officer, into workplace practices within the AOC.

''The AOC supports an environment free from discrimination, harassment and bullying and will not tolerate behaviors that differ from this standard,'' the statement said.

Danni Roche, a 1996 Olympic field hockey gold medalist, is contesting the May 6 vote for president against Coates, who is an IOC vice president and head of the coordination commission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.