Saturday 24 March 2018

Athletics: AAI enter job market in bid to fill disputed director role by year's end

Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

THE job that caused so much division between Athletics Ireland (AAI) and the Irish Sports Council is back on the market as AAI will finally place advertisements this week for a new director of athletics.

It is one of the most important roles in the sport because it deals primarily with the nation's elite athletes, and this time the job title, officially, will be high performance director of Irish athletics.

The position has been vacant ever since the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

And finding the sort of high-calibre candidate that AAI are seeking will not be helped by the fact that it is now less than two years away from the London Olympics, which means much of the best talent in this field, internationally, has already been snapped up by other federations.

The last incumbent -- Briton Max Jones -- finished his term during the Beijing Olympics, and though a full interview process was completed in the autumn of 2008, he was never replaced.


This was largely because the Irish Sports Council (ISC) -- who pay the salary and had two representatives on the last interview board -- would not endorse the AAI's final choice of candidate, believed to have been leading international athletics agent Paul Doyle, husband of Irish 400m Olympian Karen Shinkins.

Wrangling over the position created part of the friction between the Sports Council and ex-AAI CEO Mary Coghlan, which saw her eventually take both the ISC and AAI to the High Court.

The director of athletics job was re-advertised last year but never filled because AAI then decided that formulating a new long-term strategy for the sport up to 2016 was their priority.

A high-performance consultant -- Chris Jones -- was brought in on a short-term contract to complete this and it was launched last April.

Jones was one of those short-listed for the director of athletics job back in 2008 and he is currently the performance director for Triathlon Ireland.

The new job description stresses that "the candidate will not take on any other commitment, sport or otherwise, that would be considered to conflict with the commitment required to deliver this role".

It also stresses that job success will be "measured in terms of success at European and World Championships and at the Olympic Games".

The Irish Independent understands it will be advertised in several relevant publications this week, including the sport's UK bible 'Athletics Weekly' and that AAI want it filled before the year is out.

Irish Independent

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