Athletics: Ma threatens to quit over 'conspiracy'

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The Independent Online
MA JUNREN, China's leading athletics coach, has threatened to resign, alleging government failure to finance his squad of world champion women runners, it was reported in Peking yesterday.

Ma has alleged that unnamed enemies have conspired to undermine his success, and that others were damaging his team's reputation by using its name - they are known as the 'Ma Family Army' - to market shoddy goods without permission.

China's first world-renowned coach has sparked controversy ever since his women began obliterating world records last year, thanks to his unconventional training and dietary programmes. This month, Ma sacked the 1500 metres world champion, Liu Dong, for defying his demands to leave her boyfriend and cut her long hair.

'A few people behind the scenes have bad-mouthed me,' Ma said. 'They are not just not supporting the 'Ma Family Army' but crippling this team. We haven't received a penny, and this has affected our normal training.' Ma has complained that corporate sponsors had failed to deliver large rewards promised after his runners, Wang Junxia and Qu Yunxia, smashed the 10,000m, 3,000m and 1500m world records.