UK Athletics in chaos after CEO and top official quit

Coates, Symington step down from their roles following country’s unsatisfactory performance at Tokyo Olympics

AFP October 22, 2021


UK Athletics was in chaos on Thursday after its CEO and performance director quit after a disappointing performance at the Tokyo Olympics, the country's worst in 25 years.

CEO Joanna Coates, the former head of England Netball, was only appointed in March 2020 but oversaw Britain's poorest athletics showing at an Olympics since 1996.

Britain's performance on the track in Tokyo was also overshadowed by a doping case involving silver medal-winning 4x100 metres relay runner CJ Ujah. The relay team is likely to be stripped of their medals.

Performance director Sara Symington, a former British Olympic cyclist, was appointed in August 2020 but is going to move back to her old sport.

She will take up a newly-created role as head of the Olympic and Paralympic Programme for the highly successful Great Britain Cycling Team.

The Times newspaper reported that the resignations came after heated exchanges at the first board meeting featuring the new chairman of UK Athletics, Ian Beattie.

Beattie said in a statement: "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."

The governing body is said to be in financial trouble and several high-profile coaches were controversially suspended during Coates' tenure.

There were reports that leading British athletes had approached Sebastian Coe, the British head of World Athletics, in September to urge him to intervene in what they called a crisis within UK Athletics.

Mark Munro, the current UK Athletics development director, will take over as interim CEO for six months while a recruitment process is launched for both roles.


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