Athletics: IAAF rebuff brings boycott nearer

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The Independent Online
BRAD HUNT, one of the leading American agents, reacted strongly yesterday to the news that the International Amateur Athletic Federation had officially rejected demands for prize-money to be paid at the world championships in August. He said the threatened boycott of the championships by leading athletes was now 'a very real possibility'.

The IAAF council, meeting in Jakarta, confirmed that dollars 7.5m ( pounds 4.9m) be made available to their 202 affiliated national federations - on the basis of dollars 1,000 for each athlete competing in the major IAAF championships this season - but the IAAF is upholding its position that no direct prize-money will be offered at its events.

Hunt, whose athletes include the world champions, Michael Johnson and Mike Powell, is a member of the International Association of Athletes' Representatives, which is seeking a far larger slice of the dollars 91m the IAAF has secured from television rights over the next four years through the European Broadcasting Union, and the estimated dollars 23m from Japanese television rights.

The IAAF president, Primo Nebiolo, estimates that the IAAR proposals would cost dollars 40m over the next four years, a demand he has dismissed as 'ridiculous'. Hunt said the world indoor championships in Toronto in March were not likely to be a target for a boycott. 'The target is the new, two-yearly outdoor world championship, born exclusively out of commercial opportunity because of TV revenue,' he added.

Referring to a proposal from the US Track and Field Association that IAAF revenue should be split three ways, with one-third going to national federations, he said it might have helped achieve a compromise but that it was doomed. 'If the IAAF was going to make over one-third of its income, it would have to open its books and show what three-thirds was. I don't think it will ever do that.'