Athletics: Johnson and Bailey join queue of creditors

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The Independent Online
After the news that the British Athletics Federation has gone into administration with huge debts, it has emerged that it is not only British athletes who will feel the cost but some of the biggest names in the sport. Mike Rowbottom surveys the mess.

The financial collapse of the BAF has left foreign athletes such as Michael Johnson and Donovan Bailey out of pocket, it was revealed yesterday.

A spokesperson for BAF, which announced on Tuesday that it had gone into administration with a deficit of pounds 500,000, confirmed that international athletes were in the same situation as British competitors who are awaiting payment for summer appearances.

Bailey, the Canadian world record holder and Olympic champion at 100 metres, appeared twice in Britain, at Sheffield and Crystal Palace. His management confirmed yesterday that he has not yet been paid for the latter race, where he was supposed to receive around $50,000 (pounds 32,000).

"It is a matter of some concern, and we will be following it up with BAF," a spokesman said.

Johnson's lacklustre performance in the 17 August meeting in London, where he finished fifth in the 200m and then pulled out of the relay, earned him widespread criticism. But the BAF promotions officer, Ian Stewart, maintained afterwards that there would be no question of docking a fee thought to be around $100,000.

"A deal is a deal," Stewart said at the time. But the matter has been taken out of his hands now and rests with the newly appointed interim managers.

Diane Modahl, who is pursuing pounds 500,000 worth of damages from BAF following her acquittal from doping charges, would have to take her place in the queue of creditors should she be successful.

"My understanding is that BAF have already spent half a million pounds on legal costs," Modahl's husband, Vicente said. "After the appeal we would have settled for a small amount and an apology. But BAF continued to take instruction from the International Amateur Athletic Federation to fight the case."

Meanwhile, Britain's bid for the 2003 World Championships is on hold, and the staging of the 1999 World Cross-Country Championships in Northern Ireland is also in doubt.