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ASC boss backs Winning Edge program

AAP logoAAP 1/09/2016 By John Salvado

Australian Sports Commission (ASC) head John Wylie says an on-line national lottery to provide extra funding is crucial if Australia is ever to finish top five on the Olympic medals table again.

Australia finished way below expectations at last month's Rio Games, ending up 10th with eight golds and 29 overall medals.

Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) president John Coates didn't even wait until the closing ceremony to savage the ASC and its Winning Edge funding model of targeting selected sports.

Coates has withdrawn the AOC from an ASC review of the Canberra-based Australian Institute of Sport.

He also said the ASC policy of appointing businesspeople such as John Bertrand in swimming and Malcolm Speed in cycling to head up major Olympic sports had been found wanting.

Wylie backed the likes of Bertrand and Speed on Thursday while declining to return fire at Coates.

The ASC directors met on Tuesday and committed unanimously to the key principles of Winning Edge.

They will push ahead with attempts to more closely align the state institutes of sport with the AIS, believing there are significant savings to be made.

More commercial deals, such as the one between Swimming Australia and Optus or those which mining magnate Gina Rinehart has signed with several Olympic sports, would be welcomed.

Wylie also strongly backed the implementation of a national on-line lottery, similar to the one which has helped Britain emerge as an Olympic sporting superpower.

"It's a work in progress," said Wylie.

"Legislation is required for it.

"There are well-established precedents overseas as to how this works.

"It doesn't have to be purely a sports lottery, it can be a lottery that supports a range of community causes, like you have in the UK.

" ... it's not an overnight solution but we think it will be a very important future pillar for Australian sport."

Wylie said the ASC had lost 15 per cent of its federal funding in real terms in the past five years - down from $268 million in 2010-11 to $254 million in 2015-16.

"We at the Australian Sports Commission are not going to hold up the lack of funding as the real reason or even a major reason for outcomes in Rio," he said.

"It's far from clear that more money would have meant more medals in this campaign.

"Like all commonwealth agencies we need to make efficiencies in these times post the commodities boom and ensure we can demonstrate value for money for commonwealth expenditure.

"(But) in the long term there is little doubt the world of sport is becoming more competitive globally and Australia can't expect to enjoy the sporting success of yesteryear with yesteryear's funding."

Wylie stood by the aspirational target of a top-five finish on the Olympic medals table, one which Australia has only achieved four times, including the home Games of 1956 and 2000.

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