Malaysia’s head diving coach has lost his job after allegedly allowing a “toxic” culture to develop among his team that led to rape, violence and bullying, the government said.
Yang Zhuliang, who has held the role since 2008 and is originally from China, will not have his contract renewed when it runs out at the end of this month.
Yang led Malaysia to unprecedented success, with the nation winning their first Olympic diving silver medal last year and clinching all 13 diving golds in the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur in August.
However, allegations that another national coach, who was close to Yang, raped a young diver who was training for the next Olympics shocked the country and prompted sports officials to examine team management.
Assistant coach Huang Qiang denied committing the rape in October when he was charged in court and is due to stand trial.
Malaysian Minister for Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin said that while there were no allegations directed at Yang himself, a “toxic culture” had developed among the divers under his leadership.
“The main reason why [Yang’s] contract as national diving head coach was not renewed was because of a culture and environment of fear among some of our divers,” Khairy said on Friday in a statement. “This culture and environment had caused cases of rape, sexual harassment, violence, beatings, bullying and threats.”
“No gold medal is worth more than the safety of national athletes,” Khairy said.
However, Yang, in his 50s, said the claims were unfair.
“I seldom mix with the divers after training and I don’t pay any attention to their personal lives,” he was cited by the Star newspaper as saying. “How could I possibly be in control of everything?”
As well as the rape allegation, local media reported tensions between coaches and athletes, including a fight breaking out between one trainer and a diver during a volleyball match.
An Australian coach has been selected to take over for Yang, reports said, without identifying the person.
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