We're on wrong track -- Bedford

Inside Lines
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The Independent Online

Trying to find somewhere in or around London to hold the world athletics championships in 2005 is proving to be as much an embarrassing shambles as the dogfight over Wembley. Yet another meeting with all the relevant parties is scheduled for this Friday after two hours of wrangling with the Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, last week failed to resolve anything. With only a fortnight left before the UK Athletics chief David Moorcroft Eurostars it to Paris to present a final bid to the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the probability is that he will be unable to offer them a definite venue, even though the options have been more or less whittled down to Hackney, Hillingdon, Northolt and Crystal Palace, with Twickenham still in the frame if it is decided to go for a one-off arena just for the championships. "Lamentable," is how Dave Bedford, one of Britain's best-known former athletes, describes the state of play from the Government downwards. Bedford, the former world 10,000m champion, is now in charge of the world's best-run pro-am event, the London Marathon. He reckons the words piss-up and brewery come to mind, appropriately enough for someone who was cheerfully well acquainted with both in his colourful career. But as the last man regularly to fill to capacity what used to be the national athletics stadium at Crystal Palace - which I believe is now favourite to become so again - his views are pertinent. "What happened over Wembley was appalling and it is scandalous that football was allowed to get away with it," says Bedford, 50, who happens to be a football fan and Spursseason-ticket holder. "You need a new stadium that takes 20,000-25,000 for national events but you also need a partnership with football for the really big ones. To say they couldn't have a permanent athletics track at Wembley because there would be a lack of atmosphere is bollocks. Tell that to the fans in Italy and Spain. It seems ridiculous that we couldn't find a compromise whereby athletics and football can he housed together. It happens everywhere else, why not here?"

Frank ko'd by the Red Ken corner

Ken Livingstone has one opponent fewer to worry about as we can reveal that little Frank has decided not to come out fighting for the job of London mayor. Maloney, not Dobson, that is. The pint-sized boxing promoter and manager of world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis will formally withdraw his candidature this week, ko'd by Red Ken's decision to run as an independent. Maloney reckoned he could have been more than just the Screaming Lord Sutch of the mayoral battle but he tells me: "If Livingstone had been the official Labour candidate I'd have had a go at him but now I reckon he'll get such a big sympathy vote, there's no point. I don't believe in fighting losing battles. Half of London will vote for him just to put the boot in on the Government. I'll make my own protest at this mess by not voting and I'd urge others to do the same. Anyway, I've got enough on my plate trying to keep Lennox's titles intact. Boxing politics? They're worse than the real thing."

Dinner date for Kate and Tony

Inside Lines is happy to report that the Minister for Sport, Kate Hoey, and her predecessor Tony Banks are now on speaking terms. They'd barely exchanged a word since Hoey took over last July but now they seem to be rubbing along nicely. "Kate has been very helpful recently over the 2006 campaign," says the World Cup envoy Banks. So while it might not be quite a matter of Kiss Me Kate, a peck on the cheek will certainly be in order when they are fellow top-table guests with the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, at the annual dinner of the Professional Footballers' Association at Grosvenor House, London, on 30 April, the first time in 26 years it will not be an all-male event. Even if they had not lost last year's discrimination case brought by the female agent Rachel Anderson, the PFA reckon they would probably have invited Hoey anyway in her ministerial capacity. Whether she would have accepted is another matter. Banks famously boycotted the event last year because of the no-women rule. Meantime Anderson, the soccer suffragette whose dinner ban cost the PFA £52,000, has written to the PFA chief Gordon Taylor to enquire whether she too can get her kit on for the lads. "But I won't be holding my breath."

Giant leap for snowman kind

Sadly our friend Harry Egger, the world's fastest snowman whose daredevil exploits we reported here last week, has failed to break through the 250kph speed-skiing barrier because conditions in the French Alps weren't ideal, though he'll be trying again soon. But he'll be happy that a fellow Austrian, Andreas Goldberg, yesterday created his own piece of winter sports history by ski-jumping a world record 225m in Planica, Slovenia, roughly twice the length of Wembley Stadium.

No more the Brylcreem boy

On Friday David Beckham was extolling the benefits of Brylcreem to schoolkids in Cheshire. Yesterday his new crop top was revealed in all its locks-shorn glory. A case of hair today and gone tomorrow. What price the Brylcreem Boy now?