Scottish Athletics chair says UK Athletics reform plan can put the sport back on track

Scottish Athletics chair Ian Beattie believes the recently-published blueprint to reform UK Athletics (UKA) can lift it out of the doldrums and put the whole sport back on track.

A new plan, backed by UK Sport and Sportscotland, is set to force the governing body and the four home nations to work in harmony rather than pulling apart.

It is due to see Birmingham-based UKA revamp its governance with Scottish Athletics winning its demands for a permanent seat on the board.

And the review, undertaken by former senior civil servant Dame Sue Street, has also called for “more transparency and openness” within the sport, just weeks after new chief executive Joanna Coates promised to seek “ethical success” in the wake of criticism of its former links with disgraced coach Alberto Salazar.

Beattie, a vocal critic of UKA’s old regime, said: “We see it as a positive with a lot of the changes we had asked for. It’s about understanding we all have a role to play in pulling athletics together.

“There’s been questions of the structure of the board and how that interacts with the Members Council which we’ve sat on. There’s work to do on the operations side, especially on communications.

“We will have to look now at how Scottish Athletics operates and if there are changes we need to make. We don’t think there will be much but we need to check if anything we’re doing rubs against the change plan.”

UK Sport had hinted it could slash athletics funding without a makeover to make it “fit for the future” following a string of resignations from the board, internal conflicts and the heavy financial losses from dud events such as the ill-fated Athletics World Cup.

Street’s consultation found that many stakeholders felt the sport “couldn’t get any worse” and had a “culture of mistrust”. But she also criticised the lack of a digital strategy to engage “a wider audience” and an unwieldy structure that sees athletics “over-administered”.

It has been promised the reforms will be implemented by the end of 2020 but Beattie said: “We can never be fully integrated because of the different way that Sportscotland and the Scottish Government work and the different priorities we have to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. But where we can work together, we will.”

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