Government ignores calls for funding

MELBOURNE -- A review into government funding of elite sports in Australia has ignored Olympic officials' calls for bigger budgets and recommended extra funding be linked to performance targets.

The Australian Olympic Committee had requested an extra $93.63 million for each of the next three years, on top of the current $130.9 million budget, to arrest a potential slide down the medal standings at the 2012 London Games.

"The report does not recommend a funding cut to elite sport or the sport sector as a whole," Sports Minister Kate Ellis said in a statement.

But she later told reporters: "There are things in this report that might ruffle a few feathers."

The report, released on Tuesday and touted by the government as its biggest review of sports in more than a decade, recommended funding stay at current levels.

But it added that the government "should consider supplementing this funding on the basis of agreed targets for high performance and participation."

AOC chief John Coates last month said Australia had already slipped to seventh in projected Olympic standings, according to a regular benchmark study, and that the government's dithering over the sports review had cost athletes badly needed funding.

The benchmark study said Australia would need to win 55 medals to keep its targeted top five position at the London Games in 2012.

Australia won 46 medals at last year's Olympics in Beijing, including 14 golds, to finish fifth on the overall medals table and sixth for golds.

The report, prepared by an independent panel led by businessman David Crawford, also called for a shake-up of Australia's federal and state sports regulatory bodies.

It also recommended the federal government negotiate with the states for a share of lottery revenues for sports funding and that athletes donate "time and expertise" to local sports as payback for receiving government funding.