UK Athletics crisis deepens as Joanna Coates quits as chief executive

Performance director Sara Symington has also resigned from the organisation

Jack Rathborn
Thursday 21 October 2021 21:06
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<p>Coates has already achieved notable success in a sports administration role</p>

Coates has already achieved notable success in a sports administration role

UK Athletics has been sent into further turmoil after the shock resignation of chief executive Joanna Coates, while performance Director Sara Symington has also departed.

The major shakeup comes after a disappointing Tokyo Olympics with financial challenges and a failure to push through reforms also playing a part.

Coates, the former chief of England Netball, only took the job in March 2020, but a series of unpopular decisions has seen her walk away.

Symington, a former cyclist who starred at the Olympics in 2000 and 2004 and also worked with Coates at England Netball, has confirmed a move to British Cycling as head of Olympic and Paralympic programme.

After confirming the switch, Symington said: “This is an incredible opportunity to play a pivotal role within cycling - the nation’s most successful Olympic and Paralympic sport.”

Development director Mark Munro will take charge on an interim basis.

A statement read: “UK Athletics can confirm that Joanna Coates and Sara Symington have given notice from their respective roles, Chief Executive Officer and Performance Director.

“Mark Munro will take over as Interim CEO for six months to provide strategic continuity and leadersip to the staff, athletes and coaches and will prioritise working with the board to start the recruitment process for both roles.”

While Chair of UK Athletics Ian Beattie added: "I'd like to thank Jo and Sara for their work during their time at UK Athletics and I wish them both all the best for the future."

Another problem for the organisation is the absence of a long-term broadcast partner with its long-standing relationship with the BBC ending after a failure to strike an agreement over a new deal.

While debate has swirled this week over decisions to allocate Lottery money to athletes, including the process, which took place before some athletes had received a performance review.

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