Athletics: Norman's future in the balance: BAF promoter awaits verdict

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The Independent Online
Andy Norman is awaiting a decision on his future in British athletics after the conclusion of a six-hour disciplinary hearing in London yesterday.

The British Athletic Federation's executive chairman, Peter Radford, said he would announce his findings 'as soon as possible'. According to the BAF spokesman, Tony Ward, no announcement is expected to be made until next week.

Radford, with the assistance of a legal advisor, David Pannick QC, is investigating Norman's general conduct as the BAF promotions officer. Norman has been accused of verbally threatening the writer and coach, Cliff Temple, who was found dead beside a railway line on 8 January this year. Included in the evidence for Radford's consideration is a phone call taped by Temple, in which Norman appears to imply that he will accuse Temple of sexually harrassing an athlete.

The conversation took place shortly before Temple published an article which was critical of Norman. No evidence for any such charge has been offered.

In his first public appearance since Temple's death, Norman - who had delayed the hearing on the grounds that he was not well enough to attend - looked pale and he refused to comment to waiting reporters.

Accompanied by two legal representatives, he was one of six witnesses called upon by Radford to give evidence in the Stockholm Suite at the Euston Plaza Hotel, close to the Sports Council offices in Upper Woburn Place. On legal advice, the BAF had done all they could to keep the venue secret, switching the choice of hotel less than 24 hours beforehand. Their efforts apparently extended to the announcement board in the hotel foyer, which indicated that the Stockholm Suite would be occupied by the British Rail Board.

The other witnesses were three journalists - Neil Wilson, athletics correspondent of the Daily Mail, Duncan Mackay, a freelance athletics writer, and Randall Northam, chairman of the British Athletics Writers' Association. Mel Batty, coach to Eamonn Martin, the London Marathon champion, also gave evidence as, unexpectedly, did the BAF treasurer, John Lister.

Batty said outside the hearing: 'I believe Norman should go,' he said. 'This was the final straw in his behaviour.'