Athletics: IAAF rules out Reynolds settlement

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The Independent Online
ON THE eve of its council meeting in Jakarta, the International Amateur Athletic Federation has denied that it will seek any compromise with Butch Reynolds, the 400 metres world record-holder, who is demanding pounds 18m damages from the organisation after his recently completed two-year drug ban.

Istvan Gyulai, the IAAF secretary, yesterday ruled out reports that his organisation was preparing to settle with the US athlete, who obtained his damages award in an Ohio court having proclaimed his innocence ever since his positive testing for steroids in 1990.

The Ohio ruling, which the IAAF refuses to recognise, has left any IAAF official who sets foot on US soil vulnerable to being served with a writ. And as the IAAF president, Primo Nebiolo, is committed to at least two visits to the United States this year, there has been speculation that an out-of-court settlement - of perhaps dollars 2m ( pounds 1.3m) - might suit both parties.

Given yesterday's denial, it is difficult to see what the 25 council members, who have announced their intention to discuss the Reynolds issue, will have to talk about.

There is likely to be a livelier debate over the threatened boycott of the world indoor and outdoor championships by leading athletes unless prize-money is made available.

The International Association of Athletes' Representatives, a group of leading European and US agents, wants winners at the world championships in Stuttgart in August to receive dollars 100,000, with dollars 50,000 going to the runners-up, and other placings to be rewarded on a sliding scale. It has also asked for money to be given to the first six at the Toronto world indoor championships, with dollars 15,000 going to the winners.

That demand has been dismissed as 'comic' by Nebiolo, who intends to present the council with a proposal to award national federations with dollars 1,000 for each named athlete of theirs who takes part in major IAAF championships. That may appeal to the less affluent of the 202 member federations, but it is nowhere near enough to appease the likes of Brad Hunt, who looks after the interests of world champions such as Mike Powell and Michael Johnson.

The Jakarta meeting will also debate a proposal by Ollan Cassell, one of the four IAAF vice-presidents, to divide IAAF revenue three ways between the IAAF administration, the host organisers of IAAF championships and the competing national federations, who would have the option to pass money on to individual athletes.

Such an arrangement would bring the IAAF into line with the International Olympic Committee and Fifa, football's governing body. However, it remains to be seen whether such a philosophy will be embraced by Nebiolo. If he rejects all such moves, this summer's world championships may suffer a damaging level of absenteeism.

Katrin Krabbe, suspended for four years last summer after testing positive for clenbuterol, told the German newspaper Sport Bild yesterday that she expects to be cleared next month after statements from German medical experts that clenbuterol was not related to anabolic steroids.

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