Athletics: Criticised Radford backed by athletes

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Peter Radford was given a vote of confidence yesterday by the British Athletes' Association, who went against the tide of criticism of the governing body's executive chairman.

The head of the British Athletic Federation, who later in the day gained a further vote of confidence from the federation's management board, had come under increased pressure from clubs and individuals since sacking his public relations officer, Tony Ward. There have been hints that he will face a confidence motion at the federation's annual meeting in March.

The newly formed athletes' body has supported Radford in his attempts to reshape the sport nationally. "It is so easy to throw stones," said Geoff Parsons, a full-time director of the athletes' association who with Black negotiated a power-sharing deal with Radford and the federation. "These critics are fighting regional battles. We fully support what Peter and his professional staff are trying to do on behalf of British athletics as a whole."

Mike Winch, a former international shot putter who sits on the federation's council, is among the critics. He said on Radio 5 Live: "The sport is falling to pieces. You see the quality of major meetings dropping, coaches and officials leaving and a reduction in the number of youngsters entering meetings."

Radford said: "From where I sit I don't see the bleakness."