Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates has branded his political opponents "both arsonist and firefighter" in a fiesty address at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting in Sydney.
Coates’ comments were deliberately aimed at those who opposed him in last year’s Presidential election, which saw him survive a challenge from Olympic hockey gold medallist Danielle Roche, and raised allegations of a culture of bullying within the AOC.
The bullying scandal at the AOC centered around former media director Mike Tancred, who was found not guilty, despite previously admitting intimidating former AOC chief executive Fiona de Jong.
He ultimately left his post in September.
In April, De Jong told Fairfax Media that Tancred had called her to demand that she withdraw a complaint she had submitted about a fellow Board member to Coates.
According to De Jong, Tancred said: "Fiona, withdraw the complaint or I will bury you."
De Jong has since gone on to warn that the AOC will not reform while Coates, re-elected in May, is still in charge of the AOC.
Coates has now taken aim at those who made the bullying allegations.
"The facts here, as determined by the Independent Committee, suggest that a specific human resources issue was inflamed into an alleged macro cultural problem," he said in his address.
"And that this was done by those seeking to present themselves as the solution.
"That the AOC was besmirched by exaggerated claims and pejorative hyperbole, expressed for political advantage.
"And that those who claimed a motivation to protect the AOC’s reputation more closely resembled both arsonist and firefighter."
During his address, Coates identified three former members of the AOC Executive Committee - Andrew Plympton, Nicole Livingstone and Danielle Woodward - in reminding those in attendance that they convened a special meeting of its members less than two weeks before last year’s bitter election.
"In requesting the special meeting, Andrew, Nicole and Danielle cited various media articles as justification," Coates said.
"The articles referenced complaints by employee Fiona de Jong, against another employee, Mike Tancred as well other alleged complaints against Mike Tancred."
Coates also expressed a strong stance on protecting the Australian Olympic Foundation (AOF), which provides money to cover the costs and expenses of the AOC.
The AOF’s trust deed was amended earlier this month following unanimous approval by its guardians.
As a consequence of this, the Australian Sports Commission, chaired by John Wylie, cannot access the AOC’s bank.
"It means the Australian Olympic Foundation’s capital and ongoing distributions is secure…in this case…is protected by our finest…our guardians," Coates said.
"It means the AOC is able to fund its activities independent from Government and free of outside pressures of any kind.
"It means our values are preserved - strong and uncompromised.
"And it sends a very powerful message.
"To those with designs on raiding the Foundation - you are well served to look elsewhere.
"Put simply, our guardians on the wall cannot be defeated by any Barbarians at the gate."