Cash Prizes for Track and Field Debated
LONDON — THE world governing body of track and field says it will stand by its refusal to give prize money at its world championships, despite a boycott threat by top athletes.
"We think the spirit of competing is what is important," said Istvan Gyulai, general secretary of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF). Gyulai spoke by phone from Jakarta, Indonesia, where the IAAF Council is to meet this weekend.
An association of athletes' agents has pressed the IAAF to award prizes at the Aug. 13-22 world championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The agents' group says it wants a share of the IAAF's riches, including a $91-million contract with European TV.
The group has proposed that winners at the world championships receive $100,000, with $50,000 to second-place finishers, scaling down to $5,000 for eighth place.
Gyulai said the IAAF will consider a compromise proposal to give national athletic federations $1,000 per athlete competing in major events. Federations could distribute the money as they pleased, including as bonuses for medals. The IAAF also would pay athletes' travel and hotel expenses.
Among those who have spoken of a boycott are Joe Douglas, manager of the Carl Lewis-led Santa Monica (Calif.) Track Club, and Brad Hunt, whose clients include 200- and 400-meter star Michael Johnson and long-jumper Mike Powell. "There's no reason why track and field must continue to attempt to camouflage itself as an amateur sport," said Hunt.