Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Theatre of the Absurd

Dear British Athletics Supporters Club member,

We have learnt from MI 6 that you are travelling to Valencia to support the British team at the World Indoor Championships. I am writing to tell you what is expected of you in order that UK Athletics may retain the considerable funding that it obtains from UK Sport.

You will know that despite considerable opposition Dwain Chambers has been selected to compete in the 60 metres at the championships. Mr Chambers is a well known drug cheat and has had a fleeting acquaintance with convicted felons Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery. It is vital that no embarrassment accrues to UK Athletics and especially UK Sport by Mr Chambers winning a medal at these championships. You will share, I know, our embarrassment in the fact that Miss Ohuruogu won a gold medal last year without recourse to UK Sport funding. To have such a thing happen a second time would be unthinkable.

As part of the War on Doping we therefore will expect you to loudly barrack Mr Chambers at every opportunity by following the excellent advice given by the editor of Athletics Weekly to boo and hiss every time he appears in the arena. Placards bearing suitable messages as DRUG CHEATS GO HOME and LET’S GET DWAIN would also have the desired effect of unsettling his performance. He should also be harried at the team hotel and on the team coach. We have done our bit, thanks to the support of Fast Track, by ensuring that, although he is representing his country, he will not be able to compete anywhere before Valencia. We are determined that Mr Chambers will not win a medal. Be assured that we feel no personal animosity to Mr Chambers.

You may have doubts about the legality of these actions. Cast them aside. Ignore the fact that both UK Athletics and UK Sport signed up to the WADA code; forget that UK Athletics selected Mr Chambers to compete in major events in 2006; take no notice that UK Athletics has shown considerable support to Carl Myerscough since he returned from a two year ban. These are irrelevant because you will now be joining in the great crusade, part of the War on Doping, launched a few weeks ago by Mr Nils de Vos to ensure that Mr Chambers is driven from the sport. Mr de Vos has assured everyone that he feels no personal animosity towards Mr Chambers.

You may feel that you are risking arrest and incarceration in a Spanish prison by taking such actions. Fear not. UK Sport has made sure that you will have the services of the British consul in Valencia who will make every effort to ensure that you receive a minimal sentence. Surely it would be a minor sacrifice to make in support of the War on Doping?

Failure to carry out these actions will, regrettably, result in your being banned from travelling to future major athletics events abroad. Your passport will be confiscated for the whole of the track season and you will be required to report to a police station on a daily basis during the period of major championships.

Forget terrorism and climate change, Doping in Sport is the major threat to the world in the 21st Century and we are taking tough measures to combat it. These are:

(1) As far as Mr Chambers is concerned we are trying to ensure that not only does he pay his own travel and hotel expenses but he receives no help from team management in Spain and, should he injure himself in the event, we have requested that he receive no medical attention. We are endeavouring to ensure that he will have difficulty booking flights to Valencia. We must again reiterate that we feel no personal animosity to Mr Chambers.
(2) We are endeavouring to make sure that Mr Chambers will receive no expert coaching. His previous coach has been instructed by the UKA Performance Director not to assist Mr Chambers during UK Athletics time. Nor can Mr Chambers avail himself of the use of Picketts Lock during UKA time.
(3) We intend to dispense with drug hearings. If an athlete is tested positive he or she will automatically be banned for life. If the innocent are wrongly punished so be it for the greater good.
(4) We are asking for an additional £1 billion per annum to enhance the War on Doping. This will enable us to extend testing into all areas of athletics including young athletes’ leagues and school championships.
(5) We will employ an additional 30,000 testers to carry out ten million tests a year.
(6) It is our aim by 2012 to have every athlete over the age of 11 tagged to ensure they are available to testers at any time of the day or night.
(7) Every toilet facility at every stadium will be covered by CTV cameras to ensure that athletes are not injecting themselves with banned substances.
(8) With the enthusiastic support of Fast Track and sponsored by Athletics Weekly we are hoping to institute additional penalties for doping offences including the use of Stocks and Ducking Stools at televised events where the public can vent their fury at drug cheats.
(9) All athletes and officials will be required to attend Hate Sessions once a month where they must shout violent abuse at pictures of Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Dwain Chambers et al.

The War on Doping must be won or it is the end of civilization as we know it. Statistics showing that less than 1% of athletes test positive doesn’t, as some believe, indicate a low level of doping; what it indicates is that we aren’t testing enough athletes.

Athletics is the first sport to enthusiastically support these measures. You should cast from your mind any subversive idea that UKA will use them to divert attention from their poor performances at major championships.

Many thanks for your support in the War on Doping. Can I once more reiterate that nobody at UK Sport or UK Athletics or indeed the media feels any personal animosity to Mr Dwain Chambers. He just happens to be a convenient fall guy providing good copy.


Doping Czar

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Immoral Imperatives

Diane Modahl

In 1991 I wrote a book, Athletics: The Golden Decade (still available from Amazon!) which was well received critically. In a chapter Sporting Salem I wrote at the unease I felt at some of the hysteria being induced by undue zealotry in drug testing which had followed the sensational dope positive of Ben Johnson at the Seoul Olympics of 1988. Three years after publication all those worst fears were justified by the case of Diane Modahl who, in 1994, went through two subsequent years of emotional and financial hell to clear her name after highly dubious drug testing procedures at a laboratory in Portugal, sanctioned by the then British federation.

Seventeen years on from The Golden Decade we seem no further forward. Last year Christine Ohuruogu underwent unpardonable tabloid abuse for her forgetfulness in missing three tests. Now, following the BALCO scandal and the subsequent jailing of Marion Jones, we find ourselves gripped by a similar hysteria and worry. It has caused witch hunting of the kind experienced in the Massachusetts village of Salem in 1692, an hysteria compellingly dramatised by the late Arthur Miller in his play (and later film) The Crucible.

In the Golden Decade I wrote:

“…drug cheating strikes at the very core of a lifetime’s belief for so many people; belief in the ethos of fair play, in the purity of equal competition. If Britain was the mother of modern sport and its Olympian ideals it was felt right that we should impose the most Draconian penalties upon those who abuse the concepts that we invented. The danger in our approach would come – and there were some so passionate about the issue that they could take us there – when, as Miller had written ‘the repressions of order were heavier than seemed warranted by the dangers against which the order was organised.’ “

Drug taking in sport is a highly emotional issue, it stirs visceral and understandable anger, it goes against almost every reason to take part in sport at all. For those who have been denied Olympic fame and fortune by drug cheats the anguish must be great. It is why, for so many, the punishment is clear and simple: banishment from sport for life.

But there are many problems. Drug testing procedures are far from watertight; the whole concept of strict liability goes against natural justice; the quasi-courts seem loaded against the alleged transgressor who, guilty or no, is forced into very expensive legal representation in order to face the “prosecution.” And if cleared there is no compensation as Modahl would angrily verify; quasi drug courts cannot offer costs.

And there is the million dollar question: just how serious, how widespread is the problem in actuality? Do a handful of high profile cases really warrant Miller’s “heavy repressions of order”? Are we, by listening to some, in danger of wandering, with our eyes wide shut, into an Orwellian world, where tagging (as seriously suggested by some) is a portent of quite absurd ideas of repression and where athletes’ human rights would be far more abused than they are now?

This year is the 20th anniversary of the year that the Olympic movement suffered, through Ben Johnson, an almost mortal blow. You would think that two decades is long enough for sport to get its act together but that is far from the case. Combating doping in sport is still a mess. There have been fluctuating periods of banishment from four to two years and now in some cases back to four again; sports and countries vary in their attitudes and implementation of the rules; there is uncertainty about some of the prohibited substances; the World Anti Doping Agency was set up in 1999 and literally tens of millions of dollars have been spent on its work with little or no change in the overall picture in nine years and now UKA, a signatory to WADA laws, is contemplating subverting the ethos of them by introducing bylaws.

All this is caused by anger that legal restrictions and human rights frustrate the most zealous in their attempts to eradicate sport doping. Their problem is that repression is the name of their game; no mention by UKA of educating young athletes against doping; no attempts, as UK Sport’s former head of anti-doping Michelle Verroken has pointed out, at our federation rehabilitating the very few offenders that we have had, back into the sport. .

I am also angered by those who pervert sport by taking drugs; they must be severely but legally punished. But I am angered as well by slackness or even deliberate manipulation of testing procedures to obtain “the right result”. I am angered too by the smug sanctimony of the British Olympic Association and its infringement of sportsmen’s human rights by injustly trying them twice for the same offence.

According to the Gospel of Luke “joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth over ninety and nine just persons who have no need of repentance.” I have not seen over the past two weeks any Christian redemption offered by UK Sport or UK Athletics or the BOA to the battered but still in there punching Dwain Chambers.

Now we have an “independent” review headed by Dame Tanni Grey Thompson who has already supported UKA in its recent endeavours and indicated that she thinks eight years is a suitable punishment for serious drug offences. What is actually needed is a truly independent international review of doping in sport, similar to the Dubin enquiry in Canada after the Johnson affair.

So I am also angered (as you may have read) by UK Athletics’ new CEO, Nils de Vos, who through naivety and lack of background in the sport, opened a Pandora’s Box of hysteria, of verbal and media lynching of an athlete, Dwain Chambers, who under WADA and IAAF rules is eligible to compete both in Britain and Valencia. de Vos has also failed to acknowledge UKA’s very serious blunder in not testing Chambers for fifteen months because the organisation assumed that he had retired.

The American writer Joan Didion wrote:

“…When we start deceiving ourselves into thinking…that it is a moral imperative that we have [something] then is when we join the fashionable madmen and then is when the thin whine of hysteria is heard in the land, and then is when we are in bad trouble.”

Dwaine Chambers

But we must be thankful for small mercies. Congratulations must be in order to UK Athletics, under its present management, for surely being the first ever federation in the world to select an eligible athlete for a championship and then, with the connivance of UK Sport and Fast Track, do all it conceivably can to impede his chances of success.

Bring in the clowns? Don’t worry they’re here.

Friday, 15 February 2008

Mob Rule

Nils de Vos is in grave danger of making British Athletics (and himself) look vindictive as UKA make moves to freeze out Dwain Chambers, who is legally free to run, from the sport of athletics. What is happening, as people (mostly employed in some capacity or other by UK Sport or UK Athletics) can’t wait to line up on television and radio to condemn his return, is mob rule, plain and simple, something I never thought I would see in our sport.

UK Athletics is being utterly two-faced towards Dwain Chambers. Why? Performance Director, Dave Collins picked Chambers for the European Cup in 2006 and the European Championships of the same year. It therefore ill behoves him to appear on television to say why he now thinks Chambers should not compete, even though Dwain is cleared to do so under WADA and IAAF rules, without his indicating what has changed. What has changed, of course, is the arrival of his new boss de Vos full of evangelical fervour of extraordinary naivety.

UKA made the assumption that Chambers had retired because he tried American football and so had not tested him since November 2006. Chambers never announced his retirement from athletics and when his football venture didn’t work out came back to the track and this great furore. It is UKA that have broken the rules by not testing him and it is de Vos who has to take responsibility for that serious lapse. The buck stops with him though he seems to be carefully avoiding it.

There is more hypocrisy. Once Carl Myerscough had served his two year ban, earlier this decade, he was welcomed back and picked by Collins and his team of professional selectors to compete in the World Championships in Helsinki in 2005 and the European Championships in 2006 as well as sundry Spar European Cups, including the 2007 event when de Vos was already installed at UKA. Indeed UK Athletics made strenuous efforts to support Myerscough in his appeal to avoid the BOA ban and compete in the Olympics (which failed).

Chambers also ran in a Fast Track promotion at Gateshead in June 2006. That organisation is now hypocritically forbidding him entry to their promotion in Birmingham this weekend accompanied by some pious statements about “protecting the image of the sport”. It also seems to be orchestrating, with the encouragement of UKA, his being banned across Europe.

It was shameful of the sport’s only magazine Athletics Weekly to urge the verbal lynching of Chambers as he went to his blocks in Sheffield by booing him. Luckily, either not many of the crowd read the magazine or those few that do treated the advice with the contempt it deserved.

In his first real utterances since he entered the sport almost eleven months ago de Vos has done more to confirm, by his statements to the media, the perception that athletics is a drug ridden sport. News (not sport) headlines and lead-in television stories have ensured that many parents now feel that athletics is not a sport they would wish their children to take part in. I have not heard de Vos tell the world that since the year 2000 only five UK athletes (roughly 0.1%) from a few thousand out-of-competition tests have served bans for drug offences and one of those, Ohuruogu, is recognised as not having taken drugs. Hardly the epidemic that his utterances would suggest.

The vilification of Dwain Chambers by UKA and Fast Track executives, joyfully soaked up by the media, has also come about through those who have leapt on the case to bray (yet again) for a lifetime ban. It will never happen and the IAAF and European AA must act swiftly to stop individual federations and the European promoters, led by Rajne Soderburg, from taking unilateral action to bring such a ban in through the back door.

The European Promoters are not above the law and they should be reminded of the case of two little known swimmers, David Meca-Medina of Spain and Igor Majcen of Slovenia, who both tested positive for nandrolone at a World Cup event in 1999 and were banned.

They claimed that the anti-doping rules contravened Article 81 of the European Community Treaty, which bans anti-competitive agreements and practices and they took their case to the European Court of Justice, which recently determined that sporting cases do fall within the scope of Article 81. Put another way, the court decreed that the rules on doping in sport are not exempt from EU laws on competition and freedom to provide services.

These are sad days for a once great sport and a once great federation. The inmates have taken over the asylum.

Behind Closed Doors

Some people might well also ask why Nils de Vos is being so vocal about the return of Dwain Chambers and so silent about two of the essential planks for the future success of British athletics, coaching and competition, both of which are in a total mess and have been so for over a decade.

In order to gain some enlightenment I e-mailed various Establishment figures a fortnight ago asking for insight as to whether coaching would continue to function under UKA or whether it would be transferred to England; likewise for domestic competition. I also asked, in both cases, who would be driving forward the necessary changes vital to the future success and welfare of British athletics. As I write there have been no replies.

There is a line in one of Charlie Rich’s more famous songs that goes “Oh no one knows what goes on behind closed doors” and there are many frustrated people in British athletics who would agree with that. Either the hierarchy think this modest Blog is beneath their contempt or they just don’t know the answers to my questions.

Not withstanding the deafening silence it is time to look at the current state of coaching and competition in Britain.

For many years I asked the question “Who’s in charge of coaching?” The answer was that nobody was. UKA had separated the roles of performance and coaching, deciding that the latter could survive as coach education, staging quasi-academic courses that for a decade produced coaches with little or no practical experience and more importantly no means of obtaining it. Why? Because coach development has been virtually non-existent hence the appalling quality of coaching that I see and all too frequently hear about today.

Enter Callum Orr. Finally Moorcroft decided to act and UKA advertised for a Head of Coaching and Teaching (not, you will notice, for a Director of Coaching, a role that had been successfully fulfilled, from Dyson to Dick, for half a century or more). Orr’s entry into UKA came at a time when Moorcroft’s disastrous era was drawing to a close and a new one was about to begin. Orr has been becalmed by the seeming inability of his new bosses to produce a wind of change for the sport.

Orr recently learnt that as part of de Vos’s weeks of the long knives his services were no longer required. Indeed he had to interview for his own job along with one other applicant. The post has been left vacant. There have been strong rumours of one former well-known coach lobbying Sport England for his removal.

“Callum has lots of ideas,” a top international coach said to me. “It’s tragic that he’s going.” This is echoed by many. The tragedy is that because of total inertia in terms of setting any vision and strategy by the hierarchy he will not have the opportunity to carry them out. All this begs the question: what influence do Sport England and UK Sport have in the internal affairs of British athletics?

This leaves coaching in a vacuum and it looks to remain so for many years to come. It also poses another question: who is left in executive positions at UKA who knows anything about track and field, let alone coaching?

A few weeks ago I spoke to Jack Buckner about the Competition Review and was staggered to find that it was considered finished, even though the last report held no concrete proposals. You may remember that the lately departed Zara Hyde Peters (to a new job I hasten to add) said, “The sport may end up deciding what its preferred competitions are and this consumer driven approach may be the best solution.” The best solution to enable UK Athletics to cop out maybe, but not a good one for the so called consumers.

UK domestic competition, particularly league athletics, is Byzantine in nature, a veritable mess of pottage. It needs drastic streamlining. It needs financial incentives. It needs to attract the public to support local teams. Buckner stressed the dangers that face athletics domestically from other more attractive sports if nothing is done. UKA and England Athletics need to be aware of these dangers. If we shelve his ideas and shamble on in the same old, comfortable way we’ll arrive at 2012 in the same disastrous state that we’re in now.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Dwain...yet again (and again)

“It is better that ten guilty persons escape than one innocent suffer,” said the 18th century eminent jurist William Blackstone. He was repeating a universal doctrine that is in enshrined in law, a doctrine that has existed since the book of Genesis and been endorsed down the centuries by many eminent men including Socrates, Benjamin Franklin and more recently by the eminent English former Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf.

What does the Chief Executive of UK Athletics, Niels de Vos think? “[Life suspensions]…would mean,” he has reportedly said,” one or two people who accidentally get themselves into difficulty might be caught but I’d rather have that than allowing the guilty to get off.”

It is small wonder then that de Vos is arguing that “there is a problem of the law versus sport.” Is this a suggestion that sport should be above the law? It sounds like it and we have to suppose that he has the support of the UKA Board and his Chairman in making these quite extraordinary and ridiculous pronouncements. Who is advising this man?

Now he is to try and set up a bylaw that would preclude all athletics drug cheats from gaining international selection. He is clearly mesmerised by the sanctimonious British Olympic Association’s bylaw that bans those guilty of drug misuse from ever competing for Britain in the Olympic Games but before he follows that organisation’s path he should heed the words of the hard-line former President of WADA, Dick Pound. Pound opined that he felt a legal challenge to the BOA bylaw would succeed in the courts.

All this has been sparked by Dwain Chambers wishing to return to athletics. He was of course part of the BALCO scandal and, in 2004, received a two year ban for testing positive for the designer drug tetrahydrogestrinone (THG). He served his ban and came back to the sport in 2006, coming second in the European Cup and reaching the final of the European Championship. Probably disillusioned with his form he decided to try his luck at American football but it did not work out. He has decided to return to athletics. It is unfortunate for him that the cases of Marion Jones and Justin Gatlin have hit the headlines in the interim so stirring up fierce moral indignation in the heart of some, most particularly Nils de Vos.

They tried to cite the fact that Chambers had not been tested since November 2006 as a reason to prevent him running but have kept singularly quiet about the fact that that was clearly the fault of UKA. The point really is that in picking Chambers to run in major international events in 2006 they set a precedent and so any non-selection following this weekend’s Trials in Sheffield would be retrospective as well as vindictive. Presumably if de Vos has his way Carl Myerscough would also be dropped from international teams and Christine Ohuruogu may well also be in line for the chop.

A number of cases in the past like Modahl and Hylton and the evidence in the Paul Edwards’ case as well as internationally that of Bernard Lagat show that drug testing in sport is far from perfect. In the Modahl case the panel decided that she was guilty without their hardly looking at the evidence. But that, according to de Vos, is unfortunate; the end must justify the means.

Come Sunday all will be revealed.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Dwain ...yet again?

It is a pity that Niels de Vos chose such a dodgy issue to try and prove his sport’s machismo over the rest as far as drug abuse goes. Once it became clear that Dwain Chambers had never announced or notified anyone of his retirement (which the IAAF confirmed) it was to say the least a display of worrying naiveté to start issuing statements about UK Athletics refusing to select drug cheats for international competitions at the expense of defying the world governing body.

What de Vos didn’t seem to grasp was that far more experienced minds in this area reside at the IAAF and WADA, people who understand what you can and cannot do under the law. Now Chambers is cleared to run at the weekend and de Vos, who frankly has had to eat humble pie, must pray that Craig Pickering does his stuff and wins the title. De Vos may take some comfort in the sundry boos that might greet Chambers as he goes to his blocks.

Steve Cram writing in his column in The Guardian suggests that a way out is to let Chambers run but just not select him for the World Indoors. Such a move would undoubtedly trigger further legal action but you have to ask on what grounds the move could be taken? Chambers was selected by UKA for international competitions in 2006 after he returned from his drug ban and he has not tested positive since. So what has changed? You cannot suddenly alter rules and regulations at the whim of one person.

Chambers was last tested fifteen months ago. Until this recent farce it was because someone at UKA had assumed that he had retired. UKA boobed so perhaps a lot of the bluster is to try and disguise that fact. Surely it is not beyond the wit, even of those at UKA, to devise a written procedure for the retirement of athletes?

Why does sport believe that its rules and regulations need not comply with natural justice or indeed the law? Why do our top administrators feel the necessity to prove that they have more cojones than their peers when it comes to fighting the “drug menace” that is inflicting sport?

Drug taking in sport is such a highly emotive issue that it needs objective judgements and cool heads to deal with it. At the moment these appear to be in very short supply.

With threats of legal action in the air it seems that the lessons of history are, once again, not being heeded by the hierarchy at our governing body who perhaps have decided that they are irrelevant. “What’s past is prologue,” wrote Shakespeare and it would be the end for British athletics if the Modahl saga of almost 14 years ago were to be repeated with similar dire consequences for both parties.

If Chambers had committed a major criminal offence and served his time he would have resumed his place in society and society would, in the main, consider that he had served his due punishment. But certainly not in sport and most certainly not in British sport. The Ohuruogu affair, when the athlete was tried twice for the same offence (itself an injustice), outlined quite clearly that our executive officers believe that the present punishments for doping are inadequate, that the Christian ethic of redemption has no place in athletics (or at the BOA). If that is their belief they should make their case through the agreed channels to the IAAF and to WADA instead of insidiously trying to circumvent the rules by adding their own adjuncts and byelaws as the BOA have done.

Our whole approach is succinctly summed up in a recent British Medical Association (BMA) Ethics Committee report that states: “Current anti-doping strategy is aimed at the eradication of doping in elite sports by means of all-out repression, buttressed by a war-like ideology”

In the months following the BALCO scandal, I’ve been asking people not involved with athletics what they think about our sport. It’s only a small straw poll but the vast percentage said they believed athletics was drug ridden. Yet, as we constantly reiterate, the vastly expensive testing systems reveal only an infinitesimal percentage of positive tests. When they’re told these figures they express considerable surprise. Why is that? Two reasons. Firstly, we have a media that is avaricious for drug stories (and as far as athletics is concerned they’ve been considered the only stories worth writing about in recent years) and secondly, our officials are trumpeting almost weekly their moral credentials in this area. Is it any wonder that the public have this unfortunate and deleterious impression?

What with extraordinary totalitarian ideas like tagging athletes on the drug register being seriously considered in some quarters, top athletes popping up to declare that they missed two tests and the Paul Edwards’ case quietly bubbling away on the back burner you have to say that there is a distinct impression of headless chickens. Writing in Athletics Weekly de Vos, said “Words mean nothing in the fight against drugs in sport, action is everything.” He is absolutely right so can he persuade his colleagues and himself to quieten down and stop giving the erroneous impression of a massive problem in our sport and to take action through the appropriate channels. It could be that this perception of athletics is partly to blame for our current low recruitment.

De Vos also wrote: “We must grasp the opportunity at every level of the sport – nationally and internationally – to show the cheats that we shall do all we can to test you, trace you and throw you out.” This is the emotive, warlike language to which the BMA committee refers but of the 100,000 or so athletes in Britain less than one percent are out of competition tested. The BMA Ethics Committee also stated:

“… costly anti- doping efforts in elite competitive sports concern only a small fraction of the population. From a public health perspective this is problematic since the high prevalence of uncontrolled, medically unsupervised doping practiced in amateur sports…exposes greater numbers of people to potential harm.”

What this means is that athletes outside those on the drug register can dope themselves with impunity for there is no out of competition testing for them and very little or no competition testing either.

De Vos is reported to have favoured the criminalisation of drug use in sport but what he has not grasped is that the levels of proof required in criminal proceedings far exceed those required by sporting authorities where athletes still have to prove their innocence rather then the prosecutors having to prove their guilt. What would stymie drug cases under criminal law are those magic words, beyond all reasonable doubt.

The truth is that drug testing in sport is deeply flawed; it has a quixotic air about it. Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery et al were not caught by the testing authorities but by federal investigation. WADA and the IOC live in a dream world where universal laws against drug abuse are possible. They are not and the sooner sport comes to terms with that fact the sooner we can devise a sensible method of detection and arraignment.

Is drug taking the most vital issue facing UK Athletics? No it is not. I was amazed in telephoning Jack Buckner a couple of weeks ago to find that his Competition Review was considered complete even though it had made no concrete proposals. Coaching too appears in limbo after recent events at UKA and you have to ask where the expertise in this area is going to come from. Coaching and Competition are the two main planks of any successful sport and both have suffered and are suffering in the ten years since the creation of UKA. More on this next week but it seems to me that the honeymoon is over.