Rutherford’s blast at athletics chiefs who ‘get fat off proceeds’
GREG Rutherford has issued a withering attack on the athletics bigwigs who are ‘getting fat off the proceeds’ while competitors are struggling to earn a living.
Rutherford will retire at the end of the summer and has revealed to Sportsmail that he is considering entering sports politics in a bid to force a shake-up from within athletics.
In a stinging assessment, the former Olympic, world and European champion accused athletics of being stuck in the past.
He went on to slam ‘ridiculous’ rules applied by the IAAF, the International Olympic Committee and British Athletics that protect their own commercial deals by preventing competitors from carrying the branding of personal sponsors.
The 31-year-old told Sportsmail: ‘ We still have this ridiculous sponsor scenario where athletes have zero ability to attract new sponsors because the sport stops that from happening.
‘If I am competing at the weekend I can wear my Nike outfit, and Nike are fantastic in supporting me, but what else can I wear because I am not allowed because of branding issues?
‘This isn’t just the IAAF or British Athletics, it is the IOC. Look at their Rule 40 that stifles athletes (by preventing athletes promoting non- official brands during the Olympics) and yet the IOC makes around $6billion.
‘Other sports have professionalised in the right way. I would never begrudge Alexis Sanchez getting £600,000 a week because without the players there is no game. If you are not enhancing the lives of the athletes something is wrong.
‘It is still seen as an amateur sport by those who run it but they are happy to take a nice wage and cheque, getting fat off the proceeds. There was a statistic from a couple of years ago that something like 90 per cent of US athletes live off less than $10,000 a year. That is disgraceful. These are people competing at the highest level and they are lining the pockets of those who run the sport.
‘What I am looking forward to is those people dying out, and there being a new wave of people (filling positions of power in the sport).’
Rutherford will compete in Germany this weekend and then will ‘say my farewells’ at the Muller Anniversary Games in London next month before a possible tilt at defending his European title in August if form and fitness permit. Next, Rutherford is considering getting involved in the administration of athletics. He said: ‘Maybe I will be one of those people who gets involved on that level because I would like to try to evoke change. ‘Look at American sports and the commercialisation of the Super Bowl. That is the modern age. It is not, “Henry from Eton is competing at the Olympics”. We have to move with the times and the sport hasn’t.’
You can see Rutherford at the London Stadium for the final time at this year’s Muller Anniversary Games, July 21-22. Tickets via britishathletics.org.uk
Gold glory: Rutherford in London in 2012