Duncan Mackay
The World Championships, which took place in Berlin last month, was certainly exciting and it was wonderful to see some great British performances from those athletes who made finals and especially, of course, our four individual medalists, including the gold medallists Phillips Idowu in the triple jump and Jessica Ennis in the heptathlon.
  However, overall achievements by UK athletes must be measured against the amount of financial investment handed to UK Athletics (UKA), since 1998.  UKA, a private limited company with no shareholders and wholly unelected and unaccountable to the sport has received around £150 million pounds of public money from the Government since they were originally set up and funded by UK Sport, a Government quango, over 10 years ago. 
UKA’s mission statement was: "To deliver the sport the likes of which has never been seen before.” Standards would rise, injuries would be reduced and more medals would be won. Of course, we all held our breath and expected wonderful things. That was the promise because the sport, or rather the sport’s administration now had plenty of public money to ensure our best development and more medals in global championships than ever before. But like Napoleon’s march on Moscow, things didn’t go quite as planned.
UKA’s  record on World Championships achievement so far, comparing the five from 2001 to 2009 contested during their administration, with the previous seven events where athletes and coaches had no or little National Lottery funding, shows a considerable drop in achievement with only the last two showing a reasonable improvement on their previous three but still a long way off what was achieved before they took over. 
Their comparative lack of achievement in the World Championships, since the Government funding took over and with the additional benefit of far more sponsorship and television money than ever before, amounting to £80 million, is in massive contrast to what has been achieved without them. 
Prior to UKA being put in control, British elite athletes had no Lottery funding. The previous athletics governing body, the British Athletics Federation (BAF), wasn’t awash with money, didn’t have a professional staff numbering some 120 - the largest of any national governing body for athletics in the world - nor did they have costly High Performance Centres, most now closed down because of under use and/or ineffectiveness, plus UKA’s own full time paid coaches, specialist department directors and the best possible medical and scientific support staff; all of which should have resulted in the delivery of the sport as originally promised over 10 years ago.
Of the points gained for top eight places at the seven World Championships, which took place under the old mainly “amateur” system, between 1983 through to 1999, British athletes - who along with their coaches all mostly had to work for a living - averaged a total of 84.2 points from each Championship. The high came in 1993 when they scored 95 points. During the same period up to 1999, they won a total of 50 medals, compromising 11 gold, 21 silver and 18 bronze.

altEven by removing the two highest medals and points championships - 1993, when the gold medallists included Linford Christie, Colin Jackson (pictured) and Sally Gunnell and 1987 - under the former non-Lottery funded national governing body - that still leaves a total of 35 medals won, which were made up of eight gold, 10 silver, 15 bronze and an average points score of 79.6. Clearly, a far better achievement than UKA’s efforts over their five World Championships.
Apologists for UKA’s will claim “the world has moved on" or that we have “a missing generation” and “far more countries now take part". But in actuality, world top standards have only improved in a few events, notably in the men's’ 100 and 200 metres and men’s 5,000 and 10,000m mainly through just two outstanding individuals.   
Between 2001 and 2009 and the five World Championships under UKA’s heavily funded responsibility for the sport, British athletes in those five events scored an average of 55.8 points and won a total of 19 medals - five gold, four silver and 10 bronze. All in all, a considerably way down on the previous [unfunded] five Championships and, more significantly in view of their remit, also way down on UKA’s predicted and agreed targets with the Government funders.
When the public has funded a sport like athletics - to the tune of £150million - they expect results. But from 2001 - by which time and after three years, UKA should have been fully up to speed - through to the World Championships in Berlin, the overall British team performances have been very disappointing. Berlin has shown an improvement, but, it has taken ten years and a major clear out of the previous top management at UKA at considerable cost to the sports potential development and lost opportunities for our undoubted athletics talent, due to the Government’s funding agency’s failure to officially recognise and deal with UKA’s under performing management, total lack of a comprehensive development strategy and their Coach Education Programme which was deemed “unfit for purpose.”
Rather than being carried away with UKA’s specialist group of hysterically hyped acclamations for mainly mediocre performances to date and  future predictions for the next three years into London 2012 - the same "false dawns" of hype and spin we’ve suffered the last 10 years - it might be noted that despite some very good British successes in Berlin, Britain gained only one medal more than in Osaka two years ago but finished one place further down  the medals and points tables.

And we are still disgracefully non- existent in most of our endurance and throwing events and depleted in others as seen by Britain's Berlin entry where no British athlete was entered in 17 of the Championships events and with only one athlete entered in 12 others. So much for developing the talent pool and raising standards.
The British public - and no doubt, the Government - is looking towards London 2012 as the fulfillment of 14 years of its financial investment and support for the sport at the global level. But what they will reap, if they don’t immediately take a far closer look at how tax payers and Lottery money is being spent and analyse carefully what is really happening behind the hype and spin, they will sadly fall very short of what could have been possible had they been athlete and coach centered on an open performance basis rather than administration and management centered on a non-performance salary basis.  

John Bicourt was an English record holder and represented Britain in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics. He has coached, advised and managed a number of Olympic and World Championship athletes from Britain, Australia, South African, Kenya and the United States, including medallists and world record holders. He is an elected officer of the Association of British Athletics Clubs