FORMER England Athletics director Julian Starkey has been hit with a three-year ban from the organisation after saying black athletes make good runners “because they have to escape burglaries”.
Starkey, 62, was accused of making the comment last November at a Sporting Equals Leadership event.
The subsequent investigation found that he had made the alleged comments after being asked about the drop off in participation rates among ethnically diverse athletes.
He is claimed to have responded: “Usually when athletes start to be more specific in events, most black athletes tend to edge towards sprinting and hurdling … the blacks are all good at running because they have to get away from their burglaries.”
The case was brought to a disciplinary panel, who found Starkey to have admitted making the comments – albeit “subject to the caveat that there was a gap between the first sentence and the second sentence”.
Starkey claimed to have been facing “mental issues challenges” when he made the comments.
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But UK Athletics have found these challenges not to have been a mitigating factor.
In confirming the three-year ban, the report claimed “that holding a position in the governance structures of the national bodies was a higher position, and people in the sport should rightly look up to the people in those positions”.
They added that a two-year ban would have been “too lenient when considering the severity of the misconduct”.
The report went on to state that, irrespective of Starkey’s mental health, his comments were “totally unacceptable”, “disgraceful” and “shocking”.
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Starkey resigned from UK Athletics in December, having previously held non-executive roles.
He has also had his England Athletics membership suspended for six months, pending diversity training upon a potential reapplication.
An official statement read: “England Athletics operates a zero-tolerance approach towards discrimination and is committed to ensuring the sport of athletics provides an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment for everyone.
“Anyone wishing to report any incidents of discrimination is urged to do so through the appropriate channels.”
Starkey had also previously been chair of Bracknell Athletics Club.
Source: Athletics - thesun.co.uk