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    I was an Olympic sprinter but my career unravelled when a friend used my flat as a crack cocaine lab – he betrayed me

    A FORMER Olympic sprinter has revealed how his career unravelled when a friend used his flat as a cocaine lab.Leon Reid, 28, said he felt deceived and betrayed by pal Romaine Hyman, 31, after being sentenced following a drugs bust.
    Leon Reid has revealed how his career unravelled when his friend used his flat as a cocaine labCredit: Police Handout
    The former athletics star once competed at the Tokyo Olympics
    The talented sportsman once represented Ireland at the 2021 Olympic games, reaching the semi-finals of the 200m.
    But he was given a suspended sentence in February last year after being found guilty of allowing his flat to be used for the production of crack cocaine.
    Speaking out about his ordeal, Reid told Sky News: “I put my trust in someone and an old training partner, an old friend.
    “I feel like I’ve got really taken advantage of, especially when I was at the height of my career.”
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    Running for Northern Ireland, his major event debut came in 2018 where he scooped Bronze at the Commonwealth Games.
    By 2020 he was preparing for the Olympics in Tokyo but had to change his routine after he was delayed by the pandemic.
    Lockdown saw him come back to England, returning to a flat in Bristol that he was subletting to a friend.
    Reid maintains while he was out training, Romaine was using the flat to produce crack cocaine.
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    And he insists that the first he knew about it was when cops arrived.
    In May 2020, Reid was arrested as part of an operation led by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, taking down an encrypted communications service.
    The former Olympic star said: “It’s obviously really upsetting.
    “It’s been everything I’ve tried to get away from my whole life (drugs) and getting put back into that sort of that circle, it was just nothing that I had ever dreamed that I’d ever be involved in, ever.”
    While awaiting trial, he was still able to go to the Olympics – after appealing against an Irish deselection decision – and made the 200m semi-finals in Tokyo in 2021.
    But his trial last year saw a conviction for allowing his flat to be used for the production of cocaine and receiving payment, which text messages showed to be £500.
    Reid was ordered to carry out community service while Hyman was jailed for 26 years after being found guilty of 18 offences in the crackdown on his attempt to build a drugs empire.
    “I was there training for the Olympics. I was at the peak of my career,” Reid recalled.
    “I wasn’t really focused on my friend. He was doing his work-out in the apartment, which obviously he said it was forex trading and things like that, which I’ve got no interest in.”
    And Reid said his one-time friend was “making sure I was out of the apartment” before cooking drugs.
    He continued: “I was on a WADA drug list, so even if I touched a door handle that did have traces of drugs on, I would get a positive drug test and I would fail that, and I would lose my career. So I was in no position to risk that on any scale.”
    Reid maintains he was “too nonchalant about the whole situation” while doing a favour for a friend, insisting: “I didn’t need the money.”
    He had gained status, sponsors and success which all abandoned him after his conviction.
    A return to the Commonwealth Games was also blocked last year when he was deemed a security risk by Birmingham organisers.
    A regretful Reid said: “It destroyed my career. And also my reputation.”
    Now, he hopes to use his misfortune to help those still in professional sport by forming a mentoring business.

    “I fought my demons of the past two years,” Reid says.
    “I’ve had the no sleep nights and the cry myself to sleep. But now I’m looking forward to the future.”
    Reid said he was betrayed by friend Romaine Hyman who he had no idea was using his flat to cook drugsCredit: Police Handout
    Bands of cash were also found at the apartmentCredit: Police Handout More

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    Shaun Pickering dead at 61: Brit Olympian and son of BBC commentator dies as Greg Rutherford leads tributes

    WELSH Olympian Shaun Pickering has died at the age of 61. Pickering was a shot put bronze medallist for Wales during the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
    Shaun Pickering has passed away aged 61Credit: Kenny Ramsay – The Sun Glasgow
    Pickering won bronze at the 1998 Commonwealth GamesCredit: Allsport
    He was also an Olympian at the 1996 Atlanta games, where he finished 27th.
    Pickering’s best shot of 20.45 metres in 1997 still stands as a Welsh record and places him as sixth best in the across the UK.
    He also held the Welsh record for hammer throw, with a best distance of 68.84m
    Pickering later became UK Athletic’s national event coach for heavy throws.
    He was the son of the late BBC commentator Ron Pickering and former British Olympian Jean.
    Team GB long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford led the tributes online.
    Taking to Instagram, Rutherford said: “Incredibly sad news to wake up to.
    “Shaun was a really good man and a pillar of the athletics community.
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    “He will be deeply missed.”
    In tribute, Welsh Athletics said: “Everyone at Welsh Athletics is sad to hear the news that ‘Hall of Fame’ inductee, multiple Welsh Champion and record holder Shaun Pickering has passed away.
    “Our thoughts are with Shaun’s friends and family at this sad time.”
    The Ron Pickering memorial fund, a charity aimed at helping aspiring British athletes which Pickering helped to build following his retirement, also paid a heartfelt tribute.
    They said: “It is with deep sadness that we learned of the passing today of our beloved Shaun Pickering.
    “Shaun did so much for athletics and to carry on the amazing legacy of his parents Ron and Jean.
    “All our hearts go out to Shaun’s family and friends at this dreadfully sad time 💔.”
    British Athletics also added: ” Everyone at @BritAthletics is so saddened to hear this news today.
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    “Shaun loved the sport passionately and cared deeply for athletes and his many friends across the sport.
    “His work to continue the success of @RunforRon Fund supported so many athletes. RIP Shaun 🖤.” More

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    Women’s race organisers forced to apologise after winners are awarded ‘sexist’ prizes

    RACE organisers have been forced to apologise after awarding “sexist” prizes to victorious athletes.The Carrera de la Mujer women’s race in Spain attracts around 30,000 participants annually.
    Serbian twin sisters Ivana Zagorac and Sladjana Zagorac came first and secondCredit: Getty
    Over 30,000 women participated in the raceCredit: Getty
    This year, winners were awarded with kitchen appliances and low-fat products.
    Upon receiving a public backlash, red-faced organisers of the Madrid event insisted the prizes weren’t designed to be sexist – but apologised “if anyone was offended”.
    An official statement read: “We understand that, seen from a biased perspective, it can generate some controversy, and we apologise if this has been the case and if any woman may have felt offended.
    “But it is a product that we consider not to have a sexist character and that it is ideal for any sportsperson who want to improve their nutritional habits.
    “In any case, we accept the criticism, we reiterate our apologies if anyone has been offended, and we promise to take measures necessary to avoid this controversy in the future.”
    Spanish secretary of state for equality Angela Rodriguez Pam posted a scathing tweet following the gaffe.
    She wrote: “If you win: housewife and if not at least you’ll lose weight.”
    The picturesque 4.3 mile race zags through Madrid’s historic streets.
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    It was won this year by Serbian Ivana Zagorac.
    While her twin sister Sladjana came in second.
    The event took place on Spanish Mother’s Day – and was designed to support victims of domestic violence and cancer survivors. More

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    US Olympic gold medalist Tori Bowie ‘was seven months pregnant’ when track & field star’s body found was at Florida home

    OLYMPIC gold medal star Tori Bowie was heavily pregnant before her death, her neighbors have said.The track and field star, 32, was found dead in Florida on Tuesday.
    Olympic gold medalist Tori Bowie was found dead at her Florida home earlier this weekCredit: Getty
    Bowie won gold in the 4×100 relay at the 2016 Rio OlympicsCredit: Getty
    Bowie won three medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, including gold in the 4×100 relay.
    Two neighbors told that it looked like the sprinter was around seven to eight months pregnant when she died.
    One said: “She was a thin woman and it looked like she had half a basketball under her shirt.”
    Cops found Bowie in her suburban Orlando home following a welfare check.

    Officers said that the woman had not been heard or seen in recent days.
    Cops have not revealed Bowie’s cause of death but have said there doesn’t appear to be any foul play.
    Bowie also picked up a silver medal in the 100m and a bronze in the 200m events at the Rio Games.
    She excelled at World Championships held in London in 2017, collecting gold in the 4x100m relay and 100m sprint.
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    Bowie last competed at the World Championships in Qatar in 2019.
    Tributes from the sporting world were paid to Bowie following her death.
    American world champion Noah Lyles wrote: “I can’t believe this.
    “I had just heard word of her going to be with her sister back home and now this.
    “This breaks my heart to hear, and I will keep the family in my prayers.”
    Legendary track and field star Allyson Felix said: “Still processing this incredibly sad news. Having trouble even wrapping my head around it.
    “It was a joy and honor to be Tori’s teammate. I’m lifting Tori’s family and loved ones up in prayer. Her sweet spirit will be missed.”
    Kenyan javelin superstar Julius Yego tweeted: “So devastating and shocking to learn of the passing on of Tori Bowie.
    “The world of athletics have lost a great champion and patriot of the sport, rest in peace, Tori.
    “Condolences to the greater family of Tori Bowie, together in prayers.”
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    Sprinting legend Shelly-Ann Fraser Price said: “My heart breaks for the family of Tori Bowie. A great competitor and source of light. Your energy and smile will always be with me.”
    The USA Track and Field governing body described Bowie’s impact on the sport as “immeasurable.” More

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    Tori Bowie dead at 32: US track and field star who won gold at Rio Olympics dies as tributes pour in for ‘dear friend’

    OLYMPIC gold medallist Tori Bowie has died at the age of 32.The US track and field star won gold at Rio 2016.
    US track and field star Tori Bowie has died aged 32Credit: Getty
    Bowie won Olympic gold at Rio 2016Credit: Getty
    Icon Management Inc wrote in an official statement: “We’re devastated to share the very sad news that Tori Bowie has passed away.
    “We’ve lost a client, dear friend, daughter and sister.
    “Tori was a champion…a beacon of light that shined so bright! We’re truly heartbroken and our prayers are with the family and friends.”
    Bowie won three medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016 – including gold in the 4x100m relay.
    She also collected a silver in the 100m and bronze in the 200m.
    Bowie then excelled at the World Championships in London the following year, collecting golds in the 4x100m relay and 100m sprint.
    Upon learning the devastating news, American world champion Noah Lyles wrote: “I can’t believe this.
    “I had just heard word of her going to be with her sister back home and now this.
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    “This breaks my heart to hear and I will keep the family in my prayers.”
    Kenyan javelin superstar Julius Yego tweeted: “So devastating and shocking to learn of the passing on of Tori Bowie.
    “The world of athletics have lost a great champion and patriot of the sport, rest in peace Tori.
    “Condolences to the greater family of Tori Bowie, together in prayers.”
    Plenty of fans also paid tribute to Bowie, with one writing on social media: “Such tragic news; a stark reminder of just how fragile life is. I’ll never forget Tori’s performance in London 6 years ago.”
    And a second wrote: “Prayers and condolences to her family.”
    While a third added: “Unbelievable! Tori was a great person with a wonderful soul. RIP.”
    From left Aaliyah Brown, Allyson Felix, Tori Bowie and Morolake Akinosun celebrate winning gold in the 4x100m at the 2017 World Athletics Championships in LondonCredit: AP
    Tor Bowie comes second behind Elaine Thompson of Jamaica at the Rio GamesCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Tori Bowie celebrates silver in the Women’s 100m Final at the Rio 2016 Olympic GamesCredit: AFP More

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    Ex-England athletics chief banned after saying black athletes are good runners ‘because they have to escape burglaries’

    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.
    Julian Starkey has been banned by England Athletics for three yearsCredit: Facebook
    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.
    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. More

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    Jim Fox dead at 81: Tributes paid to British modern pentathlon Olympic champion

    JIM FOX, the former modern pentathlon Olympic champion, has died at the age of 81.The Brit won team gold at the 1976 Games in Montreal, Canada, alongside compatriots Danny Nightingale and Adrian Parker.
    Ex-army sergeant Jim Fox won gold in Montreal and caught out a cheating rivalCredit: Getty
    The Wiltshire-star famously exposed the cheating of Soviet Union Red Army soldier Boris Onishchenko, who was disqualified after it was discovered a switch had been hidden in his fencing sword to register false hits.
    While they duelled, a light came on early to indicate a hit for Onishchenko.
    Fox later told the BBC: “All I could think about was that Onishchenko had a weapon that was not properly working.
    “And then over a period of minutes, because he was going to put it back in his bag and because of the way he he wanted to put it back in his bag, I felt there was something dramatically wrong.”
    Onishchenko’s cheating was soon exposed.
    Montreal 1976 official Carl Schwende revealed at the time: “The weapon had definitely been tampered with.
    “Someone had wired it in such a way that it would score a winning hit without making contact.”
    Fox was an army sergeant in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and represented Team GB at four successive Games.
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    He finished fourth in the individual event in Munich in 1972, having been dissuaded from retiring by coach Ron Bright after the 1968 Mexico City Games.
    When he did officially hang up his sports equipment, he served as chairman of Pentathlon GB.
    The governing body said: “All at Pentathlon GB send their condolences to Jim Fox’s family and remain grateful for everything he has done for our sport.”
    British Army Sport stated: “Very sad news indeed and our sincere condolences to his family and friends. An outstanding athlete and supporter of Modern Pentathlon in the British Army and for his country.
    “RIP Jim and thank you for your service.”
    And sports fans on social media added their tributes.
    One posted: “So sad. A very charming man and great sportsman.” More

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    People are only just realising why a marathon is 26.2 miles

    PEOPLE are only just realising why a marathon is 26.2 miles. With 40,000 runners entering the London Marathon every year, many are unaware as to why they have to complete the gruelling number of miles.
    Many are unaware why the marathon is the length it isCredit: Rex
    The idea for a marathon first came about in 490 BC when a Greek messenger ran from Marathon to Athens to deliver news – which was just 25 miles.
    However, in 1908 when the Olympic games were held in London, things changed.
    It’s since been suggested Queen Alexandra, the wife of then reigning monarch Edward VII, wanted the marathon to start in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
    This was so kids in the Royal Family could watch from their nursery windows.
    With the finish line being in front of the Royal Box at the Olympic Stadium, it meant the distance would have been 26.2 miles.
    The insight into the marathon’s history comes less than a week after the big day.

    And the ballot for 2024 is now open with potential participants only having until tomorrow to enter.
    You can enter the ballot to run in the London Marathon 2024 on the TCS London Marathon website.
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