Laura Muir’s 800m British Championship win was mired in unexpected controversy last night amid accusations of favouritism and rules having been bent.
The 25-year-old maintained her recent impressive form by surging clear to win the race in 2 minutes 1.22 seconds with fellow Scot Lynsey Sharp in fifth place. However, with the meeting at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham doubling as the trials for next month’s European Championships in Berlin, there was discontent that Muir – who had been expected to compete in her favoured 1,500m – was not named on the start lists published online following last Monday’s entry deadline.
Sharp was one of a number of athletes who cried foul with the controversy increased by an unusually late revision of the line-ups for Saturday’s heats. Former European champion Sharp said: “There’s a date by which you have to declare for a reason. “Throughout the whole week we prepare for what we know our competitors are going to be.
To throw something else in the mix overnight is playing a game.” Muir was coy about confirming whether she will eventually run both 800m and 1,500m in the German capital after previously insisting she would only compete at a single distance. Muir, pictured, said yesterday: “We accepted the entry for the 800m over a week ago. It just didn’t update online. It’s always been in our minds to do the 800m. I think some of them maybe knew.”
Some clearly didn’t. The coach of one defeated opponent was understood to be considering an appeal to authorities against the result, while Sharp was not alone in expressing dismay at the manner in which the process had been handled. Revee Walcott-Nolan, who came sixth, said: “I think if the rules are there they should be stuck to “If it was me that wouldn’t been allowed. It is a bit unfair but you have to just get on with it.”
At best, it was a bad administrative error by the organisers. A spreadsheet seen by The Scotsman suggested Muir had originally been on the accepted invite list for two distances before choosing one and the information subsequently got mixed up.
A UK Athletics spokesperson insisted: “We have data that shows the time and date of all athletes’ entry confirmations, with all competing at this weekend’s championships submitting their online forms on or before the closing date of Monday 25th June.”