Commonwealth Games: Sally Pearson, Benn Harradine and Alex Rowe fined for late arrival
21 July 2014
Athletics Australia are sticking by the controversial decision to fine Alex Rowe, despite admitting the rising star did the right thing by taking up a last-minute invitation to race in Monte Carlo.
The trio of Rowe, hurdles champion Sally Pearson and discus thrower Benn Harradine have been docked a third of their preparation fund for not arriving in time for a pre-Commonwealth Games training camp.
The three athletes failed to arrive at camp in Gateshead in northern England before last Thursday's deadline, as they instead chose to compete in warm-up events.
What I want Alex to do is what happened, to be honest. He went out, he ran incredibly well, he's planned things right and an opportunity came up for him that he couldn't probably have imagined six months ago.
Given the chance to take on the likes of Olympic champion David Rudisha at one of the most prestigious meets in the world on Friday night, Rowe responded magnificently by equalling Ralph Doubell's 46-year-old 800m national record.
AA has copped heavy flak for fining Rowe a portion of his travel funding - understood to be about $860 - and can expect plenty more derision in the likely event that Olympic champion Pearson is docked a larger amount.
Rowe and reigning discus champion Harradine were both docked a third of their funding for arriving late at the Gateshead team camp, but Pearson skipped the gathering altogether, deciding she would be better served by competing in London on Sunday.
Pearson went on to finish third in the 100m hurdles at the Anniversary Games in London - her final warm-up event before the Commonwealth Games.
AA high performance director Simon Nathan insisted that Rowe had to be fined for the sake of consistency and fairness to other team members, arguing it was vital that all athletes supported the team camps.
But he also said: "What I want Alex to do is what happened, to be honest.
"He went out, he ran incredibly well, he's planned things right and an opportunity came up for him that he couldn't probably have imagined six months ago.
"His plans were to come through the camp.
"He could have dropped into the camp for 24 hours and dropped back out again.
"That wouldn't have been great, but for him to do that, there's a consequence.
"I'm sure if I'm in Alex's shoes it's a bad look and not something he's going to be comfortable about."
Rowe - a university student who is still without a shoe sponsor - took the decision to have his cash slashed remarkably well.
"It certainly doesn't look great but those are the rules and I knew what they were," he said.
"If they was a discretionary clause in there and they were able to exercise it, perhaps that would have been the case.
"But having said that, you also have to look at the support Athletics Australia have provided me with throughout my whole career."
It certainly doesn't look great but those are the rules and I knew what they were.
Nathan said the controversial process would be reviewed at the completion of the Games.
Other prominent Australians who competed at the Diamond League meet in Monte Carlo, such as javelin thrower Kim Mickle and pole vaulter Alana Boyd, were not affected by the funding cuts as they had previously been in camp in Gateshead.
Having such an embarrassing and distracting affair crop up on the eve of a major championships revived memories of Australia's troubled buildup to the London Olympics.
Two years ago, 400m star John Steffensen claimed he had been racially vilified by AA officials and accused chief executive Dallas O'Brien of lying.
Steffensen had also been angry at being overlooked for a berth in the individual 400m in favour of Steve Solomon.
Steffensen was later suspended for six months for bringing the sport into disrepute after his allegations were found to be unsubstantiated.
Last edited by Admin on Mon Jul 21, 2014 10:42 am; edited 1 time in total