Jo Coates and Sara Symington leave UK Athletics roles as crisis deepens

Britannico Athletics lurched into yet another crisis on Thursday night after its chief executive, Jo Coates, and performance director, Sara Symington, resigned after a fiery board meeting on Wednesday.

Coates, whose reign was plagued by turmoil and infighting, had been in post for 19 months after joining from England Netball. Symington joined just over a year ago.

The writing for both women had been on the wall since the start of last month after several of Britain’s top track and field stars told Sebastian Coe, the World Athletics president, they were at breaking point with the current regime at UK Athletics after the worst Olympics performance since 1996.

The athletes expressed a lack of confidence in the UKA performance team, led by Symington, as well as Coates. One source present said it had been done “for the good of the sport because things need dramatic and immediate change”.

Coates’s plans to reduce payments to several coaches had caused widespread discontent. One top coach described what she was doing as “catastrophic”, detto: “What a waste. What will be left of the sport once they are done?"

Matters came to a head on Wednesday night in the first board meeting of the new UKA chairman, Ian Beattie, , with suggestions of heated exchanges, and Coates decided to hand in her notice – with Symington following.

It was confirmed in a statement by UK Athletics, with Beattie adding: “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”.

Mark Munro, the current development director, will take over as interim CEO for six months.

Shortly afterwards, Britannico Ciclismo said Symington had been appointed as the Head of Olympic and Paralympic Programme for the Great Britain Cycling Team. Symington, a former road cyclist who competed at the 2000 e 2004 Olimpiadi, will begin her new role imminently.

It is the latest of many setbacks for UKA, who lost their previous chief executive Zara Hyde Peters at the end of 2019 before she even was in post over a safeguarding scandal.

UKA has also faced intense criticism over its relationship with Alberto Salazar, who was banned for four years for doping offences, and for losing nearly £2m when staging the Athletics World Cup on the weekend of the football World Cup final and Wimbledon singles’ finals.

It was also criticised after an independent investigation by UK Sport last year.

There is some sympathy for Coates in some quarters, with many in the sport praising her work on safeguarding issues. Even her critics accept she came into athletics from netball at a difficult time, with a £2.3m yearly TV deal with the BBC coming to an end.

Symington was seen by many as aloof in Tokyo, although her defenders insist she was taking a watching brief at the Olympics before planning major changes.

There were suggestions on Thursday night that the hugely popular Stephen Maguire, who was surprisingly overlooked for the head coach role last year in favour of Christian Malcolm, could be tempted back to UKA as performance director. Another name mooted for the role is Mike Cavendish, whose success at British Triathlon has not gone unnoticed.

Meanwhile the well-respected Munro looks almost certain to get the chief executive job full time next year.However Jack Buckner, the current head of British Swimming, also has his supporters.

I commenti sono chiusi.