Neil Black to leave UK Athletics performance director role

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Photo: Richard Phipps via Flickr.

Neil Black is to leave his role as UK Athletics Performance Director, the governing body has announced.

Black had recently spoke out about the need to “play back” previous decisions he made in the wake of a ban on Sir Mo Farah’s former coach Alberto Salazar.

The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) handed Salazar a four-year ban last week following a lengthy investigation into doping violations.

Britain’s governing body appointed Salazar as a consultant to its endurance programme in 2013 and Black had subsequently backed him after allegations were aired in a BBC Panorama programme two years later.

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When the ban came to light, UK Athletics said it had “fully cooperated with both USADA and UKAD” throughout investigations, adding that it was “100% committed to clean athletics through investment in athlete education, supporting comprehensive testing programmes, and full cooperation with both UK and International Anti-Doping Authorities.”

Criticism also came to a head when a number of British athletes complained publicly about their invitations to compete at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha being rejected.

The IAAF sent the notices to athletes to fill places at the tournament on the basis that they had failed to achieve the qualifying standards but were high up in performance rankings. It remains down to the Performance Director’s discretion as to whether these invites are accepted or rejected.

Discus thrower Jade Lally shared the text of an e-mail on her social media pages, which said: “Although I fully appreciate I do not have a crystal ball, the What It Takes To Win statistical information suggests that at this stage this is very unlikely that you would medal in Doha or Tokyo”.

Neil Black defended the selection policy in place and said: “Nothing in the email suggested we were giving up on any of the athletes”.

Black is now set to leave at the end of October and has promised “a detailed handover with performance staff”. He will support Farah at this weekend’s Chicago marathon as planned.

As an ex-Nike Oregon Project athlete, Farah has always looked to distance himself from any allegations involving Alberto Salazar, which were aired as part of a 2015 BBC Panorama documentary.

In the days that followed the broadcast in May that year, Sir Mo and Neil Black were part of a high-tempered press conference in Manchester, in which the Olympic champion repeated his anger at having his name “dragged through the mud”.

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First published on: 8 October, 2019 4:56 pm

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