Greg Rutherford: I'm an outcast for criticising UK Athletics

British long jumper accused the body of being 'more of a hindrance than a help' in the lead-up to the World Championships

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The Independent Online

Greg Rutherford says he is being blanked by members of the British team in Beijing following his spat with  UK Athletics.

The British long jumper accused the body of being “more of a hindrance than a help” in the lead-up to the World Championships and, as a result, feels he is being treated like some sort of pariah by team members in China.

He claimed to have been paying for his own medical treatment for the last 18 months and bemoaned the fact he had been taken off funding for earning marginally too much money because of his success, which has seen him win Olympic, European and Commonwealth titles.

In addition, he also reacted angrily to the lack of a Union flag on his competition vest but said only he was speaking out as there was a culture of fear among athletes afraid of losing their funding by being outspoken.

Rutherford said: “One or two people aren’t speaking to me. There have been one or two awkward moments in the lift with a few members of staff. That’s fine, I can deal with that, I’m used to being the black sheep. Growing up with ginger hair gives you a thick skin, you’re used to being an outcast.”

Rutherford, who refused to name names, also said he had unfinished business in his fractured relationship with UKA and said he would bring up the subject following his long jump final on Tuesday, when he will be attempting to become only the fourth British athlete in history to hold all four major titles at the same time.

“I’m not a happy person at the moment and I’ve got plenty to say,” he said. “So I think post this competition, when I’ve got a bit of downtime, we’ll have a proper discussion about what’s actually been going on. It will come out but, at the moment, I need to jump far.”

Rutherford, who qualified comfortably for the final with a second-round jump of 8.25 metres, insisted most team members had been supportive following his recent outbursts.

“Every athlete I’ve spoken to wants the Union flag,” he added. “Nearly every single one has spoken to me privately, supported a lot of things I’ve said and told me their stories of what’s been going on. The biggest problem is people are afraid to speak out. All the athletes have said to me is, ‘I don’t want to lose my funding’.

“If you have a scaremongering society within athletics where you feel you can’t say anything without losing everything... things are going to change. I’m prepared to speak out.”