Lift from Mazda deal

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The Independent Online
ATHLETICS British athletics, moving clear of its annus horribilis, announced an early reason to be cheerful in 1995 yesterday - a vote of confidence in the form of £500,000-worth of new sponsorship, writes Mike Rowbottom.

The three-year deal with Mazda Cars is significant for more than financial reasons. It marks the first big sponsorship initiative since the traumatic drug cases of the summer and the controversy over the continuing case of Diane Modahl.

The perceived link between athletics and drugs was something of which Mazda were aware, and their managing director, David Heslop, said: "It was given a lot of consideration, but by the fact that we are here, it is a very small issue for us."

Peter Radford, the executive chairman of the British Athletic Federation, looked forward to "an extraordinary year". He confirmed Malcolm Arnold had been appointed full time as head of the coaching and development programme, and Verona Elder would continue as Britain's team manager through to the 1996 Olympics.