Britons fell victim to 'vote fiddle'

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The Independent Online


Allegations that Sally Gunnell and Colin Jackson lost out on rigged voting for the 1994 Athlete of the Year awards were denied yesterday by the International Amateur Athletic Federation.

Christopher Winner, the former IAAF spokesman, told the USA Today newspaper that Gunnell, who topped the women's poll ahead of Jackie Joyner Kersee, and Jackson, second in the men's, had been pushed down to second and fourth respectively. Winner claimed he had been instructed to add 30 extra votes for Joyner Kersee - two weeks after the poll closed in November 1994 - when it was learned that neither planned to attend the annual televised award dinner in Monte Carlo.

He said the IAAF president, Primo Nebiolo, wanted to ensure the top three athletes in each poll attended a ceremony broadcast to 74 countries.

Friday's edition of USA Today quoted Winner as saying: "I can only express shame for participating in what amounts to gross vote rigging." Istvan Gyulai, the IAAF general secretary, responded: "We firmly reject these allegations." He pointed out that in the past award winners such as Carl Lewis had contributed by satellite link.

A spokeswoman for Nuff Respect, Jackson's management group, said: "Colin has said he would be very surprised if the allegations were true." Gunnell said she had no comment.