Payments row festers despite Bupa booster

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The Independent Online
Athletics

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

British announced yesterday that it had secured a backer for its three previously unsponsored meetings this summer.

But while the Federation has welcomed Bupa gratefully into the fold of "principal partners", the chances of the newcomers - or indeed, Britain's other two title sponsors - being able to associate themselves with either Linford Christie, Colin Jackson or John Regis this season are looking increasingly unlikely.

The Nuff Respect athletes' agent, Sue Barrett, met once again with the British Athletic Federation's executive chairman, Peter Radford, on Monday without being able to resolve the impasse which has arisen over payment for the season.

"At the moment the situation has not changed," Barrett said yesterday. "Much to the disappointment of Colin, Linford and John they will not be running in Britain at any of the five principal meetings."

The discussion with Radford, who went on leave for four days yesterday, did contain "something new" according to Barrett, who was talking to the athletes in question yesterday. But more - and urgent - negotiations are clearly needed for there to be any chance of resolving the situation in time to promote next Friday's meeting at Crystal Palace.

This Sunday's Gateshead meeting - henceforth the Bupa Games - has received a God-given publicity bonus in the form of Jonathan Edwards, who returns to his home track with the hope and aim of repeating his stupendous triple jumping performance at the European Cup.

But the games lost one intriguing element yesterday when Curtis Robb, the Olympic 800 metres finalist who was due to make his international comeback after longstanding injury problems, withdrew because of a viral illness.

Robb has taken a year off from his medical studies in order to concentrate on his athletics, but he now finds himself unable to train at full stretch and looking anxiously ahead to the world championship trials on15-16 July.

"There is nothing I can take to clear the bug," he said. "I just have to wait for it to clear up. I thought I was getting better, but I did a week's hard training recently and at the end I felt as bad as I had before. It is very frustrating."

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