Athletics: Sprinter ready to retire after financial snub

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The Independent Online
Phylis Smith, the Wolverhampton-based 400 metres runner, has hinted she is ready to retire from the sport in a dispute over the size of a cash grant.

Smith is pulling out of Britain's European Cup team after being allocated just pounds 2,000 from the sport's lottery funds. She said: "It is a terrible slap in the face. Malcolm Arnold, the director of coaching, told me that if I wanted more I would have to get in the top 10 in the world. It seems that it wasn't enough to set a British indoor record this winter."

Smith, 31, competed in the Barcelona and Atlanta Olympics and reached the final of the 400m in Spain five years ago. She has been named in the 4 x 400m relay team for next week's European Cup in Munich but is now seriously considering retirement. She added: "At the moment I am determined to retire."

American athletics officials have suspended Mary Slaney, making her ineligible for the national championships which began in Indianapolis yesterday, an athletics source said. The source said a USA Track and Field board had suspended the runner on Tuesday night. A USATF spokesman, Pete Cava, declined to comment.

Slaney's husband, Richard, said the couple had not been "personally" notified. "If that's what they have done, she will not come to Indianapolis. Why should she? To do what?" Richard Slaney said from the couple's home in Eugene, Oregon.

The decision to suspend Slaney was based on a review by the US board of her drug test at last summer's US Olympic trials, the source said. Slaney's test showed a higher than acceptable ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone. Any ratio higher than 6-1 is considered suspicious by the International Amateur Athletic Federation and the athlete can be suspended.

Slaney has consistently denied taking any substance banned by the IAAF, but the IAAF's general secretary, Istvan Gyulai, said on Tuesday: "There is a very clear indication that this [Slaney] is a doping case."

The IAAF suspended Slaney and her fellow Americans Sandra Farmer-Patrick and Stephon Flenoy almost two weeks ago pending the outcome of their US hearings. An arbitrator ordered that Flenoy, a 400m hurdler, should be allowed to run in the national championships.

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