Athletics: Officials censured in 'no-confidence' case

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The Independent Online
THREE of Britain's top officials were censured yesterday for their conduct in attempting to oust the chief executive of the British Athletic Federation, Malcolm Jones. But a potential crisis within the sport was averted when their offer to resign over the matter was turned down.

Peter Radford, David Bedford, and John Lister - respectively vice-chairman, secretary and treasurer of the BAF - were reprimanded during a five-hour meeting of the Federation's Council in Birmingham. The council voted 26-16 to express 'serious concern' about their part in secret moves within the Federation's management board to pass a vote of no confidence in the 60-year-old Jones.

All three, who are unpaid, honorary members of the BAF, offered to resign, but they were told that the censure related only to their action over Jones and not did not reflect 'in any shape or form' on their overall contribution.

The council decided that any further action relating to the position of Jones, who was appointed 14 months ago on a three-year contract thought to be worth around pounds 60,000 a year, would not be taken until after the annual meeting on 20 March.

Radford, who is standing for the chairman's position, and Bedford will both be opposed at that meeting. There is no other nomination for Lister's position.

The Federation president, Arthur McAllister, said: 'It was a slap on the wrists. The council did not want their heads.'

He admitted there had been breakdowns in communication over the affair and claimed: 'This outburst of feeling and concern has left the sport in a healthier state.'

Jones, who sat through the meeting, is making no comment.

While the Federation is clearly trying to smooth waters that have become choppy since last month's no-confidence vote, there are underlying dissatisfactions about the running of the sport which need to be addressed. Among the resolutions which will be put to the annual meeting is one from the AAA of England proposing that each of the constituent area associations and each of the commissions for different parts of the sport should have a representative on the management board, which would have the effect of virtually doubling its current number of 10.

While many would argue that the sport needs a streamlined body to deal with its day-to-day affairs, there are others who feel that the leaders have been losing touch.

'It is something that has been bubbling away for some months below the surface,' the BAF spokesman, Tony Ward, said. 'This business with Malcolm Jones has been a catalyst for a lot of anger. You have to take the troops with you if you are embarking on any ambitious move forward. The feeling of today's meeting was clearly that that hadn't been done.'