Athletics: Bedford fires back in Brown fee row

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The Independent Online

Dave Bedford, the race director for the London Marathon, yesterday replied with both barrels to Jon Brown's complaint that he had been offered nothing to run in Sunday's race despite finishing fourth in the last Olympics.

Bedford accepted Brown's claim was correct but maintained that the British runner's agent had only sought an entry a month before the race, by which time his £2m race budget had already been allotted. He denied that any bad feeling between the two sides had anything to do with Brown's controversial allegations about widespread doping within the sport, as the athlete claimed in a statement, adding that it originated in Brown's behaviour after pulling out halfway through the 2001 race when he left without honouring his commitment to giving any press interviews.

"This is what the dispute is really about," Bedford said. "It was the worst behaviour I have known from anyone in my time with the Marathon. He is the only athlete in my 11 years of being heavily involved in this event that we have ever had a dispute with. Maybe it could be me, but I think it may be the other way around. After what happened today, you might conclude Jon Brown doesn't always make the best decisions."

Explaining Brown's non-appearance, which cost the athlete a $2,000 (£1,135) fee, Bedford said he had objected to wearing the standard tee-shirt with the race title on it, saying he wanted to wear a shirt bearing the logo of his sponsors, Nike. An offer to wear a plain white tee-shirt was apparently turned down.

Bedford said that after Brown's conduct in 2001, he had told the athlete's then agent, the late Kim McDonald, that he would be withholding half of the appearance fee due until he received a written apology for Brown's "appalling behaviour." He added: "Two months later I got a scribbled note purporting to come from Jon Brown saying he was sorry. We then paid the balance to him."