Athletes to share in decision-making

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The Independent Online
British athletics took a radical step forward this weekend when for the first time the country's top athletes were given a major say in the running of the sport.

More than a year of negotiations were brought to an unprecedented conclusion yester- day with a power-sharing scheme between athletes and officials.

The British Athletic Federation is providing pounds 59,000 to help fund the setting up of the British Athletes' Association and provide a base for the embryonic body at its Birmingham offices.

The BAA will then team up with the federation to run a new company which will be responsible for negotiating all new television and commercial deals.

"This is a very exciting day for British athletics," said Roger Black, the Olympic 400m silver medallist who, along with high jumper Geoff Parsons, has played a major role in the creation of the BAA. "I am delighted to see many months of discussion coming to a magnificent conclusion. British athletics can now move forward into a new, golden era."

The formation of a new company ends suggestions that the BAF was planning to scrap altogether or hand over the running of its internal events management department to another body. Instead, in a rare partnership in British sport announced after the BAF's council meeting yesterday, the federation and the athletes will work together to negotiate deals and liaise with sponsors.

The move has come with British athletics in financial strife - having lost more than pounds 400,000 in the year leading up to the Olympic Games in Atlanta - after a season in which many of its meetings were poorly attended.

"This is a giant step forward," the BAF's executive chairman, Peter Radford, said. "With the co-operation of top international athletes, the sport can confidently go forward into the millennium."