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Athletics: 'Double funding' to be targeted in cutbacks

ELITE athletes from Ulster will no longer have the extra advantage of funding from both sides of the border as the Irish Sports Council (ISC) attempts to find some savings by streamlining its elite individual grant system.

The ISC, hit by funding cuts in the last two Budgets and expecting more next month, has just finished revamping its individual grant system, known as the 'carding scheme.' Almost 120 athletes, across 23 sports, including all the Olympic disciplines, received a total of €2.3m in 'carding' this year.

Three levels of grants – €40,000, €20,000 and €12,000 – were available, based on athletes meeting agreed performance targets and Katie Taylor was among those receiving the maximum amount.

But the Irish Independent understands that, with resources now under further pressure, some of the 'carding' cutbacks for 2013 will be achieved by giving lower grants to those athletes who also benefit from considerable individual funding from the Sports Council for Northern Ireland.

The ISC has already attempted to cut back on this 'double funding' in some specific sports in the past, but is now expected to apply this across the full range of Olympic sports.

Double Paralympic champions Jason Smyth and Michael McKillop could be affected by the move, as could London boxing medallists Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, though their status as Olympic and Paralympic medallists could save them from the most extreme cuts.

Irish Independent