World of Sport

Fury as UK Athletics chief executive is awarded £90,000 bonus

World of Sport

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Great Britain athletes have responded angrily after it was revealed that Niels de Vos, the chief executive of UK Athletics, received a 55 per cent pay increase from 2012-13.

It has been widely publicised that volunteer coaches continue to struggle due to a supposed lack of funds while key coaches from the London 2012 Olympics have seen their roles changed.

Numerous high-profile UK Athletics employees who lost their jobs at the end of 2012, including sprint coaches Tony Lester and Michael Afilaka and veteran endurance coach George Gandy.

Most famously, Toni Minichiello, who was named UK Coach of the Year in 2012 after guiding Jessica Ennis to heptathlon glory in London, was also made redundant and offered only a reduced consultancy package.

As such, De Vos has been accused of sending the wrong message to the country’s volunteer coaches by pocketing a total increase of £93,788, according to UK Athetlics' annual accounts.

The UK Athletics chief executive, who has held the role since 2007, had his salary raised from £164,326 to £254,994 for the 2012-13 tax year with key athletes showing their disgust on social media.

Goldie Sayers, the British javelin record-holder, said: "A 55% (93k) pay rise for 2012-13 whilst we are losing voluntary coaches every year due to lack of funds?"

Sayers, who famously endured a torrid battle for her own Lottery funding after she was initially axed from the World Class Performance Programme in November, added: "It was interesting after making that comment on Twitter how many coaches got in touch.

"The people I’ve seen at my training centre who are coaches and who are not paid were all pretty incensed because of all the work they’re doing on a voluntary basis.

"We obviously need administrators but not at the expense of the people making a huge contribution on a daily basis directly with athletes and for the good of the sport," she added.

"I’m really passionate about athletics and I’ve enjoyed nearly 20 years of doing it and what worries me is the message it gives out to the coaches, having talked to lots of voluntary coaches."

Kelly Sotherton, the 2004 Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist, who is now a volunteer coach herself following her retirement from competitive athletics in 2012, added her dismay at the figures released.

"There are a lot of people struggling to coach athletes and my opinion is, should Niels de Vos really be receiving a pay rise when, at the ground level, people are really struggling?" Sotherton said.

"I’d like to know what the bonus was for? You would think the bonus should go to the athletes or the coaches who actually performed in 2012.

"Maybe he should have said that he didn’t need that bonus and he would put that money into helping the sport become a success, especially when they cut a lot of coaches that year, including apprentice coaches who they’d invested in since 2009 and then just dropped after the Olympics."

It has already been highlighted in the wake of the UK Athletics figures that De Vos's counterpart at the top of British Cycling, Ian Drake, earns a comparatively small £175,981 despite having helped produce eight gold medals at London 2012.

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