Athletics in crisis: UK Sport launches evaluation in troubled national governing body … just five months before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
- UK Athletics went into a deeper crisis after the launch of the review on Tuesday
- The root-and-branch assessment comes five months before the Olympic Games in Tokyo
- Being UKA without a permanent CEO or performance director after a period of chaos
UK Athletics has fallen into a deeper crisis after UK Sport launched an unprecedented assessment of the troubled governing body on Tuesday.
The root-and-branch assessment comes five months before the Olympic Games and at a time when, after more than a year of chaos, UKA has no permanent CEO or performance director.
It will be in addition to the independent assessments currently being conducted on how UKA handled the Alberto Salazar affair and the debacle surrounding Zara Hyde Peters’ aborted CEO appointment, who was fired before he even started last year for a protective scandal .
UK Athletics (UKA) has fallen into a deeper crisis after UK Sport launched a review
The focus of the upcoming review, which will be led by Dame Sue Street in the preparatory phase and which is expected to be completed in April, will cover six main areas – strategy, leadership, governance, operation, culture and connectivity within sport.
British Cycling was subjected to a UK Sport evaluation of the culture of its elite program in 2016, but the enormous scope and breadth of this look at UK Athletics is considered unprecedented.
Sally Munday, CEO of UK Sport, said: “Problems that have been raised in recent months with regard to the sport are of great importance to both UK Sport and the UK Athletics leadership team. Both organizations are committed to long-term improvement and ensure the sustainability of the sport while acting in the interests of athletes, staff and the wider athletics family.
“Our goal is to ensure that we have a full understanding of the priority issues and all the steps needed to advance the sport.”
There are no indications of what action could be taken once the findings are known, but there was already a significant risk to UKA’s increased funding levels, which amount to £ 26.9 million for the current Olympic cycle.
UKA has had shaky ground in that regard after the GB team missed their medal goal of seven to nine at the Doha World Championships – a failure that, along with the consequences of Salazar’s anti-doping ban, cost Neil Black his job as a director. A performance review published last month said it was “acute care” that UKA is advancing to Tokyo without a permanent replacement.
The root-and-branch assessment comes five months before the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan
It was the support of Salazar’s work with Mo Farah between 2011 and 2017 – despite serious accusations in 2015 – that cast a cloud over the organization. Although that is the subject of a continuous assessment by lawyer John Mehrzad, there are concerns within the sport that it will not look well enough at which, if any, of Salazar’s methods were adopted by UKA employees in his time as a consultant between 2013 and 2017.
The vision of the sport is that UKA had long been out of control, even before the departure of the underwhelming CEO Niels de Vos in September 2018. He was criticized because he did not build on the legacy of London 2012, because he was concerned that the organization preferred top-level medals to a grassroots structure that was needed for sustainable success.
The fact that those medals never came out in large numbers has raised great doubts about the wisdom of the approach and it is disturbing that De Vos was not replaced 17 months after his departure.
It will sit alongside the independent assessment of how UKA has handled the Alberto Salazar affair
Sportsmail Understands that a new CEO will be announced in the coming weeks with extra control over the results in light of the surveillance controls last year involving the husband of Hyde Peters. In combination with the awfully short reign of Richard Bowker, who left as chairman a year ago after losing a power struggle with the home countries, there is no shortage of material for UK Sport.
A statement from UKA said: “UK Athletics welcomes the evaluation announced today by UK Sport to recommend areas of change and organizational development to ensure that UK Athletics is fit for the future.”
Sports Minister Nigel Adams said: ‘I welcome this intervention. Recent problems have been related. This assessment does not affect the preparation of athletes in Tokyo. The highest standards of professional conduct and integrity must be present in our ‘sports boards’.