Inside Lines: Sports hero accuses Carter of 'blackmail'

Lottery distrtibutors Sport England and their new chairman Patrick Carter have been accused of "blackmail" by one of the nation's most accomplished sports figures. Mike Corby, who captained Great Britain at both hockey and squash, has reacted furiously to being told by the Government quango that if he stands for election next Sunday as president of England Hockey, funding will be withdrawn from the crisis-hit sport. In an unprecedented move Sport England say they will not allow anyone on to the new governing body who has had anything to do with the old English Hockey Association, whose finances are under investigation following near collapse last year with debts of £700,000. The investigation, being undertaken by "forensic accountants", is said to involve possible fraud and misappropriation of funds although Sport England stress that no allegations are being made against Corby, who took over as EHA president 11 months ago as part of a rescue operation. But they are advising members to vote for the

Lottery distrtibutors Sport England and their new chairman Patrick Carter have been accused of "blackmail" by one of the nation's most accomplished sports figures. Mike Corby, who captained Great Britain at both hockey and squash, has reacted furiously to being told by the Government quango that if he stands for election next Sunday as president of England Hockey, funding will be withdrawn from the crisis-hit sport. In an unprecedented move Sport England say they will not allow anyone on to the new governing body who has had anything to do with the old English Hockey Association, whose finances are under investigation following near collapse last year with debts of £700,000. The investigation, being undertaken by "forensic accountants", is said to involve possible fraud and misappropriation of funds although Sport England stress that no allegations are being made against Corby, who took over as EHA president 11 months ago as part of a rescue operation. But they are advising members to vote for their nominee, the former EHA committeman Ian Forster, as president of the re-constituted body. "The fact is, hockey have really screwed up their finances in a serious way and we need a clean slate with a completely new governing body," said a Sport England spokesperson. "This is public money and we have the right to protect it." Millionaire Corby, 63, describes the threat as "absolutely illogical", adding: "I have personally bankrolled the EHA and substantially reduced the debt They have exceeded their authority. This is undemocratic and tantamount to blackmail, total dictatorship. What right has Carter to choose any sport's president? He should be dismissed."

Naz back in the ring – as a sparring partner

Naseem Hamed always boasted that he would become a legend in his own lifetime. Now it seems he is proved right, up to a point. Hamed's name is among those listed by a new organisation called "GB Legends" who this week launch a series of "fantasy" camps in which fans can spend a weekend with their sporting heroes. Hamed has apparently agreed to get in the ring for the first time in over a year and spar, as well as socialise, with punters paying over £3,000 for the privilege at a training camp in Tenerife. No doubt this will be of interest to Manchester's Michael Brodie, whose attempts to pin down the elusive Hamed to a promised date have been fruitless. Reports suggest that Hamed wants to strut his stuff again in September, but believe it when you see it. He has been sighted in Sheffield looking a couple of stones over the featherweight limit and calls to his Prince Promotions remain unanswered. Fighters are always reluctant to admit they have ceased trading punches, often for tax purposes, but the "legendary" Naz may find prancing around with the fans a more attractive option.

A money man who's in the money

Sport England who, as we report above, insist they are taking seriously their role as safeguarders of the public coffers (let's not mention that £20 million gifted to Wembley, shall we?), tell us that in future they will be taking a tough line with those sports "who do not get their act together". Presumably, this reflects their own internal policy, with staff numbers nationwide being slashed by more than half, from 570 to 250, with only 100 remaining out of the 330 previously employed at their Euston HQ. Doubtless the savings will help fund the £100,000 salary for a new financial director, who is currently being head-hunted. "This is a vital position," they explain. "The salary is simply a reflection of market forces."

On the face of it a record number of drugs test (7,240) and the lowest number of positives (1.38 per cent, well below the world average) represents a good year's work for UK Sport and their drugs tsarina Michele Verroken. But there are good reasons for not showing complaceny.

One is their serious concern at the protection of miscreants, and leniency towards them, by the Football Association, and the lack of co-operation by the Jockey Club. Both bodies seem to be riding roughshod over the spirit of the code recently drawn up by the World Anti-Doping Agency, to which Britain are signatories. Additionally, there are fears that what is seen as a "soft" attitude towards drugs by certain sports in this country, and the association of athletes with "suspect" coaches, could prove costly in a London Olympic bid which is expected to be declared no later than Thursday week. However, sources say the still-dithering Prime Minister has yet to confirm his final decision to the Cabinet.

No snide comments from this quarter about the sports minister's gaffe in suggesting that Wembley was "synonymous with tennis". It's easily done.

We dropped a bit of a clanger ourselves last week in naming Andy Burnham as the Labour MP who had the voted against Blair over Iraq. We got our Andys in a twist; in fact it was his colleague Andy Reed, a fellow sports lover from Loughborough. Both are putative sports minister material and with Watford supporter Claire Ward, a former member of sport's Parliamentary Select Committee, also impressing with her intelligent observations on football administration, the amiable Richard Caborn cannot afford more howlers with a summer reshuffle looming.

insidelines@independent.co.uk

Exit Lines

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