Athletics: Barmasai may sue for Golden League bonus

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The Independent Online
BERNARD BARMASAI said yesterday he may sue the International Amateur Athletic Federation if he wins the two remaining steeplechases in the Golden League series and is denied a share of the $1m (pounds 625,000) bonus.

"I will consider with my friends and manager whether I will take any action to change the IAAF's decision," Barmasai said. "We can go to court," his manager Jos Hermens said.

Despite winning the steeplechase in each of the five Golden League meetings so far, the Kenyan was disqualified from winning or sharing the Golden League bonus on Monday for bringing the sport into disrepute.

The IAAF punished Barmasai for saying he colluded with Kenyan countryman Christopher Koskei to determine the outcome of the Golden League steeplechase in Zurich on 11 August. "I should have my chance to run for the jackpot," Barmasai said.

After winning in Zurich, Barmasai said he spoke to Koskei during the race. "I saw he was trying to pass me," Barmasai told reporters immediately after the race. "I said `leave it for me,' and that's why he slowed down." He also hinted that, if successful in his quest, he would share the winnings with Koskei.

Koskei also denied any attempt to fix the race. Barmasai said a combination of exhaustion, joy and insufficient knowledge of English led reporters to misunderstand him. "You say the wrong things and use the wrong words," he said.

Barmasai said that he apologised to the IAAF for the commotion his comments made and had expected a warning, but nothing more. He added that the issue upset him so much that it affected his performance at the World Championships, where he finished fifth, with Koskei winning.

Despite being disqualified, Barmasai can still run in Golden League meetings and was due to appear in last night's Van Damme Memorial in Brussels.

The injured 100m world champion, Marion Jones, is still suffering from back spasms and will not compete again this season. The 23-year-old Jones collapsed on the track in the 200m semi-finals at the World Championships.

"Her season is over. She continues to improve, but she is not well enough to compete," her agent, Charlie Wells, said yesterday.

"It's unfortunate, and we know her many fans will be disappointed, but it was not worth the risk. This is not about money. We want to look after her best welfare and the big picture."

Jones's withdrawal leaves only Denmark's Wilson Kipketer and Romania's Gabriela Szabo in the running for the Golden League's $1m jackpot. Jones had not lost a Golden League 200m race heading into the final meetings in Brussels and Berlin.

The American sprinter had hoped to win four gold medals at the World Championships. She comfortably defended her title in the 100m, but wound up with the bronze medal in the long jump before being injured in the 200m.

Wells said Jones still hopes to go for an unprecedented five gold medals in the Sydney Olympics, seeking titles in the 100 and 200m, long jump and 4x100 and 4x400m relays.