Athletics: Stewart lined up for Norman's job: Unease among clubs about former promotions officer's continuing role as an agent

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The Independent Online
ANDY NORMAN'S successor as promotions officer of the British Athletic Federation is understood to be Ian Stewart, the former European 5,000 metres champion who has worked as Norman's assistant since January 1993.

According to a senior BAF management board member, Stewart, who has until now had special responsibility for promoting cross-country and road racing, has been given the chance to prove himself in the main job. While Norman has been on leave pending the disciplinary proceedings which concluded with Friday's announcement of his sacking, Stewart has looked after the principal domestic indoor meetings in conjunction with Wilbert Greaves, although there have been strong rumours of Norman's influence from behind the scenes.

Stewart will certainly have a hard act to follow, and it is expected that Peter Radford, the BAF executive chairman, will be keeping a close eye on the promotions operation himself.

The decision is likely to disappoint some in the sport, who would have felt happier with the job going to someone who has not been so closely associated with Norman. Mike Whittingham, the coach and manager to Roger Black and Kriss Akabusi, who now runs his own sports promotion consultancy, was regarded as a strong potential contender for the position.

In the meantime, Norman's presumed intention of maintaining his role as an independent agent for leading British athletes could yet be challenged by clubs at an extraordinary general meeting.

John Bicourt, the former Olympic steeplechaser who is a leading agent and member of Belgrave Harriers, says there will be a protest if the BAF grants Norman official permission to continue acting for competitors such as Linford Christie and Colin Jackson.

'How can you sack a man on the grounds of his conduct and then grant him a licence to represent leading British athletes?' Bicourt said yesterday. 'It is a total nonsense. I would be more than cynical of our federation if they get away with this.

'If Norman has received a pay-off, and if he is going to be allowed to carry on being an agent, the clubs need to make sure he is drummed out of British athletics completely. I am going to press my club, Belgrave Harriers, to be very supportive of an EGM that is being suggested to make BAF account for its actions.'

Folkestone AC, the club of Cliff Temple, the writer and coach whose suicide on 8 January was preceded by threats from Norman, is also considering calling an EGM if it does not get satisfactory replies to several outstanding questions it will put to Radford this week.

The club is unhappy at the prospect of its affiliation fee going towards any pay-off for Norman; it wants an unequivocal statement from the BAF clearing Temple of any misconduct following the unsubstantiated allegations Norman made that he sexually harassed a woman athlete; and it wants a full account of the internal inquiry into Norman's conduct which took place in September. 'If the whole matter had been handled properly at that stage perhaps Cliff might still be with us,' said Dave Smyth, the Folkestone secretary.

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