UK Athletics chief executive shuns ‘medals at all costs’ mentality

There was criticism of UK Athletics’ failure to step in and Joanna Coates wants to restore trust in the organisation after a separate review was launched.

UK Athletics recently published the results of an independent review into the handling of Mo Farah’s (in frame) controversial former coach Alberto Salazar. (File Photo)   -  REUTERS

UK Athletics’ new chief executive Joanna Coates does not want “medals at all costs” as she tries to steer the organisation through a turbulent period.

UK Athletics recently published the results of an independent review into the handling of Mo Farah’s controversial former coach Alberto Salazar, which prompted performance director Neil Black to leave his role last year.

US coach Salazar was banned for four years in October after being found guilty of doping violations following an investigation by the USADA.

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The Nike Oregon Project was used as a training base by four-time Olympic champion Farah between 2011 and 2017.

Farah’s relationship with Salazar has come under the microscope but there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the British long-distance runner.

There was criticism of UK Athletics’ failure to step in and Coates wants to restore trust in the organisation after a separate review by UK Sport was launched.

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“The opportunity to change a sport and make people proud of it again is something I couldn’t resist,” she told the Sunday Telegraph.

“The board has given me the remit to make changes to ensure this organisation gets back to where it should be.

“What that team looks like that drives it forward, let’s see. There will be major change in the organisation, and that doesn’t just mean people. That means policy, procedures, how we liaise with other organisations.”

Coates was chief executive of England Netball as the team won Commonwealth Games gold in 2018 but she insists success in major competitions is just one part of her vision for the sport.

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“I wrote a list of what I wanted to achieve in the sport before I started and the big one at the top was that perception had changed,” she said.

“I do not want medals at all costs. I hope that Dina (Asher-Smith) wins. I believe she will and we want her to.

“But it’s about her story, her journey in athletics and what athletics can bring to anybody that participates. That’s what it should be about.”

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