Drug giant gives Olympic boxers a fix

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The Independent Online

Given the negative associations between drugs and sport, the latest City-backed initiative to improve the medal haul at the London Olympics may raise some eyebrows.

The pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline has been partnered with Olympic boxing in an adopt-a-sport scheme featuring some of the UK's top companies. However under the Sport in the City programme, organised by the British Olympic Association (BOA), GSK is hardly likely to be opening its medicine cupboard to emerging boxing talent.

Instead the 33 UK Olympic sports federations will in effect be mentored by a FTSE 100 company, which will offer gratis professional services such as accounting, legal advice and computing, though no cash. The aim is to bring professional standards of governance to sporting federations to ultimately boost the medal haul of the host nation in 2012.

Among the most eye-catching pairings announced at a launch yesterday morning at the London Stock Exchange, British Airways is teaming up with snow-sportsGB and British Gas with hockey.

It is thought that BA is not among the airlines bidding to become one of the official 2012 sponsors, each of which will be required to pay around £50m for the privilege. The BOA scheme is a much cheaper alternative to an official tie-in with the organising committee, Locog, though the BOA chairman, Lord Moynihan, stressed the FTSE companies would not be able to use the Olympic rings and 2012 Games logo.

The 10 partnerships announced also include Corus with triathlon, Skandia with biathlon, SAB Miller with fencing, Wolseley with gymnastics, Home Retail Group with badminton and Group 4 Securicor with judo.

Lord Moynihan said: "There are no commercial rights that go with this and no sponsorship rights. Elite performance is business-driven. The national governing body and the athletes, just like successful businessmen and women, have to deliver results, be it support services, a top contract or an Olympic medal."

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