Call for intervention in athletics - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Call for intervention in athletics

By Sharon Mathieson 28/02/2004 05:42:04 AM Comments (0)

Fearing Australia could lose its mantle as one of the top track and field performers in the Commonwealth, Victorian Sports Minister Justin Madden has called on the federal government to intervene and force Athletics Australia to get its house in order.

Two years out from the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Madden said it was imperative to resolve the problems within Athletics Australia because it had the potential to detract from the Commonwealth Games and this year's Athens Olympics.

Athletics governing body has been dogged by internal spats, debts topping $1 million and poor crowds at its showcase A-series events.

Tension has been growing amongst distance runners and coaches since Moroccan Said Aouita was appointed national distance coach in 2002, while coach Nic Bideau has called for the board to stand aside.

"Following recent media reports and representations from a number of stockholders critical of the operation and management of Athletics Australia, I have written to federal Sports Minister Rod Kemp asking him to step in and resolve the publicly raised concerns with Athletics Australia," said Madden, who is also the minister for the Games.

"From both a participant and spectator viewpoint, it's vital that a quality athletics program is provided for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

"Just as athletics was a major success at the 1956 and 2000 Olympics, it is just as important that athletics is given every opportunity to replicate those same feats and leave us all with a legacy of wonderful memories."

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC), funded by the federal government, has the power to withhold funding from Athletics Australia.

But Senator Kemp did not say if he was prepared to take action and only reminded Madden the Victorian Institute of Sport (VIS) was involved in athletics' future planning.

"The Australian Sports Commission has been in close consultation with Athletics Australia about the overall state of the organisation and the challenges they face," he said through his spokesman.

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