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US athletes slam World Athletics over Diamond League reform

US triple jump star Christian Taylor has criticised the decision to cut his event from the 2020 Diamond League season © AFP / Antonin THUILLIER

LOS ANGELES, United States, Nov 13USA Track and Field’s athletes grouping on Tuesday lashed out at World Athletics plans to cut several events from next year’s Diamond League series, accusing the sport’s global governing body of being “out of touch”.

In an open letter to World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe, USATF’s Athletes Advisory Committee called on the global body to reverse plans to axe the triple jump, the 200 meters, steeplechase and discus from the Diamond League program.

The IAAF, which changed its name to World Athletics this week, announced the overhaul on November 6, claiming the moves would help streamline Diamond League events in an effort to make meetings more attractive for television audiences.

However the moves have been greeted with howls of protest across the athletics world, while American triple jump star Christian Taylor has announced the launch of a global group aimed at giving athletes a bigger say in the sport.

In its letter to Coe, the USATF athlete’s grouping said it “wholeheartedly condemned” the Diamond League reforms.

“The IAAF and Diamond League organisers have shown themselves to be completely out of touch with the sport they are entrusted to grow and protect,” the letter said, accusing world authorities of shutting athletes out of the reform process.

“We understand changes need to be made in order to attract the appeal of a global audience, but the IAAF has shown no desire to include a sufficient number of athletes in the thought or decision-making process and this is where our frustration lies.

“By eliminating the opportunity for discussion, we see that you do not have the athletes as partners in this process. Consequently, the decisions being made appear self-serving and biased.”

Although several of the downgraded events would continue to feature at Diamond League meetings, they will not have the same prize money, effectively relegating them to second tier status.

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“The United States athletes have grown exhausted of accepting the unfavorable decisions made by the IAAF, which are typically made with minimal input from the athletes,” the USATF’s athletes council added.

“It is our hope that you would immediately reverse these actions to remove the events from the Diamond League schedule, and bring athlete representatives to the table to correct this major misstep.”

The group said it supported athletes like Taylor who were trying to create a coalition to protect athletes’ interests.

World Athletics’ reforms have met with widespread criticism. On Saturday, triple jump world record holder Jonathan Edwards said denying Taylor a stage to compete was “beyond comprehension.”

“There are so many things wrong with World Athletics decision re Diamond League events but what Usain Bolt showed athletics is that it’s not about events but personalities and to exclude and alienate one of the sport’s true stars (Christian Taylor) is beyond comprehension,” Edwards said on Twitter.

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