Athletics: IAAF threat to boycotters

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ATHLETES who have talked about boycotting the world championships unless prize money is introduced face being banned from the Olympic Games if they carry out their threat.

The International Amateur Athletic Federation's council, which received a letter of support this week from the International Olympic Committee president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, announced at its meeting in Jakarta yesterday that any athlete who missed 'designated competitions' would not be eligible either for the Olympics or the IAAF grand prix final. Designated events include the area championships for Europe, Africa and Asia, the outdoor world championships and the World Cup.

Solidarity with the Olympic movement has also emboldened the IAAF to challenge the power of the agents' organisation, the International Association of Athletes' Representatives, which has been the focus of demands for prize money. The council says it does not recognise the IAAR, although it will recognise agents authorised by national federations. The commitment to competing in designated events will be written into contracts between athletes' representatives and national federations, which will be renewable on an annual basis.

'The council had to show that there is some authority here,' said Istvan Gyulai, the IAAF general secretary, although he conceded that athletes would be excused participation if they could convince their federation that they had a valid reason.

The council has also taken a firm line with Butch Reynolds, the world 400 metres record holder, who is seeking pounds 18m in damages from the IAAF following a suspension for drug abuse which he has always contested.

Gyulai said the council was 'outraged' at Reynolds' action and was giving him until 23 February 'to retract his libellous statements and suspend all legal action against the IAAF. If in one month from now this is not done, then the council will consider how to proceed.'.

He declined to say what specific steps the IAAF might take, although a further suspension and a counter-suit are both possible.