Hockeyroos gold medallist Danni Roche believes she has "overwhelming support" to oust long-standing Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates in a highly anticipated May ballot.
But she staunchly denies the AOC's claim she was put up to it by Australian Sports Commission chairman John Wylie, describing her daring move as "100 per cent my choice" and entirely separate to the public slanging match between Wylie and Coates.
As the first challenger for the presidency since Coates took up his post more than a quarter of a century ago, Roche is campaigning on a platform of broad reform aimed at returning Australia to its Olympic golden years.
The 46-year-old, who was nominated by Hockey Australia, has pledged to work for nothing, a stark contrast to Coates' reported $700,000 salary she says underlines her desire to funnel money away from executives and towards the sports and athletes.
Yet no sooner had she announced her candidacy on Monday the AOC pounced, painting the ASC board member as the face of Wylie's bid to depose Coates, which in turn would force him to surrender his IOC vice-presidency.
"For quite some time now there's been what I'd call robust discussion with the Australian Sports Commission," AOC media director Mike Tancred said on behalf of Coates, who was locked away in a board meeting.
"We understand Mr Wylie has approached certain people to run against John Coates, and that Danni Roche was one of those people, and she's accepted his invitation."
Tancred said Coates was set on continuing until he found a successor he deemed fit.
He also described his wage as "really cheap" considering his vast global connections bring "a lot of corporate dollars through the door".
Roche acknowledged Coates' "terrific contribution" since 1990 but felt the AOC's culture and leadership was in dire need of a re-set.
She was intent on fixing the "unworkable situation" between the AOC and ASC, which started when Coates criticised the peak government body's Winning Edge funding model at last year's below-par Rio Games and reached boiling point last month in a public confrontation at a Melbourne athletics meet.
That she was visibly nervous at her first press conference is perhaps indicative of the dirty water she's wading into ahead of the May 6 annual general meeting, when the AOC president and other board positions will be voted on.
Even if no other nominees emerge before the April 5 cut-off she'll be faced with the kind of formidable lobbying power that has taken Coates to the top of international sport, not to mention AOC voting protocols that favour the incumbent.
Yet Roche said she'd been emboldened by strong support for change at the top, which has already begun with Matt Carroll replacing the departed Fiona De Jong as AOC chief executive.
"I believe there is overwhelming support that I have been given, otherwise I certainly wouldn't have stood for this position," she said.
"The Australian Olympic Committee needs to change, and it needs to change now.
"It needs new leadership, and a new generation of leaders.
"It needs to make sure that every available resource is directed to sports and athletes.
"And I believe it needs a new culture of collaboration in Australian sport."