Ruther­ford’s blast at ath­let­ics chiefs who ‘get fat off pro­ceeds’

Daily Mail - - Athletics - By RIATH AL-SAMARRAI Ath­let­ics Correspondent

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

PA

Gold glory: Ruther­ford in Lon­don in 2012

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