Athletics: Federation assuages critics on Norman hearing: Rank and file members express their frustration at AGM and increase their influence

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The Independent Online
THE announcement that a date has been fixed within the next few weeks for Andy Norman's disciplinary hearing will appease those among the sport's rank and file who expressed their frustration at the British Athletic Federation's annual general meeting on Saturday.

The federation's apparent delay in investigating the conduct of its promotions officer, who has been accused of threatening the writer and coach Cliff Temple, who committed suicide earlier this year, has caused anger among clubs.

Norman, whose lawyers said was not well enough to attend a hearing, will presumably now have to account for himself. Further delay might have provoked a call for an extraordinary general meeting by the clubs.

Hackles have also risen over the heavy-handed proposals for the introduction of a national registration scheme, to cover the drop in television and sponsorship revenue which has been conservatively estimated at pounds 500,000 this year and pounds 1m next.

The last 12 months have contained elements of nightmare for the dream ticket of Peter Radford, John Lister, David Bedford and Bob Greenoak, which established itself at the helm at the last AGM.

Their campaign slogan was: Your future, Your choice. In Saturday's meeting the clubs voted out of office the only two of the original gang of four who were standing opposed and replaced them with grass-roots candidates.

Bedford, secretary of the BAF since its inception in October 1991, lost his position to Matt Frazer, 62, secretary of the federation's cross-country commission, by 521 votes to 403. Greenoak lost out as vice-chairman to Eric Shirley, by 358 votes to 352 after a recount.

Cross-country, previously the country cousin of the domestic athletics administration, now finds itself in a position to speak strongly with two voices. Ken Rickhuss, chairman of the cross-country commission, took over the BAF chairmanship earlier this year.