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UK Sport announces 'fit for the future' probe into UK Athletics

UK SPORT has commissioned an independent review into UK Athletics (UKA) due to recent issues of “major concern.”

The government body said yesterday that recent problems surrounding UKA “have had an adverse impact on both the sport and the reputation of the sport.” 

Its first-stage review will aim to define the key components of a “fit for the future” national governing body for athletics in the UK.

It will recommend areas of change regarding UKA’s performance programme, coaching programme, safeguarding and its response to issues surrounding the Nike Oregon Project (NOP).

UKA and its former performance director Neil Black, who left in October, were heavily criticised for their links to Sir Mo Farah’s former coach Alberto Salazar, who ran the now-closed NOP.

Salazar was given a four-year ban in October after being found guilty of doping violations, which he denied and is appealing against.

Black had hailed the American as a genius, while in 2015 an independent UKA oversight committee found that there was “no reason to be concerned” about Salazar’s link with Farah.

UK Sport chief executive Sally Munday said yesterday: “Issues raised in recent months regarding the sport are of major concern to both UK Sport and to the leadership team at UK Athletics.

“Both organisations are committed to delivering long-term improvement and ensuring the sustainability of the sport while acting in the best interests of its athletes, staff and the wider athletics family.

“Our aim in commissioning this first-stage review is to ensure we have a full understanding of the priority issues and any next steps required to help the sport move forward.”

Great Britain suffered the worst World Championships performance since 2005 after winning just five medals in Doha last year.

The 10-day event, where the spotlight fell on low attendances and the ban for Salazar, ended by being hailed as the “best we have ever had” in terms of athletic performance by World Athletics chief Lord Coe.

Nic Coward was appointed as the interim chief executive of UK Athletics last month after Zara Hyde Peters, who had been due to start work as the governing body’s new boss in December, did not take up the position following reports related to a safeguarding issue.

It was alleged that her husband Mike Peters was allowed to coach at a club where Hyde Peters was vice-chair, despite being banned from teaching over an “inappropriate relationship” with a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

A UKA statement yesterday said: “UK Athletics welcomes today’s review announced by UK Sport to recommend areas of change and organisational development to ensure that UK Athletics is fit for the future.

“We are pleased to have the support of UK Sport on a wide range of issues and the review will sit alongside and complement this work and is a further step in building a strong future for the sport.

“Our immediate focus is obviously on the preparations for delivering a successful year and results at the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, whilst playing our part in delivering success for the sport as a whole.”

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