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UK Athletics crisis: CEO, Performance director resign

 

UK Athletics has plummeted to a new low with the dramatic resignations of CEO Joanna Coates and performance director Sara Symington.

Sportsmail understands Coates walked out of the crisis-hit organisation following her participation in a fiery board meeting on Wednesday.

Coates, the former chief of England Netball, departs after less than two tumultuous years in the post. Following her appointment in March 2020, her reign has been plagued by in-fighting and characterised by unpopular decisions.

The recruitment of Symington, who will now take up a role as head of the Olympic and Paralympic Programme for British Cycling, has been maligned in the sport, with the latter hugely criticised for holding such a significant position despite not having a background in athletics.

That was followed by the decision to bring in the inexperienced Christian Malcolm as head coach ahead of the strongly favoured Stephen Maguire.

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The boiling point came at last month’s Diamond League final in Zurich, when a number of Britain’s leading athletes told World Athletics president Sebastian Coe in the Crowne Plaza hotel that the current set-up was not fit for purpose.

They expressed significant misgivings about the performance set-up on the back of Britain’s worst Olympics since 1996, and shared concerns about the wider governance of the Coates era.

While Coates had a number of powerful enemies in the sport, there will be sympathy for her within some elements of track and field, given she inherited the organisation in a shambolic state and was immediately confronted by the challenges of the pandemic.

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