Ex-UK athletics chief banned for saying black people are good sprinters 'because they have to get away from burglaries'

2 May 2023, 22:33

Julian Starkey
Julian Starkey. Picture: Social media

By Kit Heren

A former UK Athletics director has been banned holding an official position in the sport for three years after claiming that black people are good sprinters "because they have to get away from their burglaries".

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Julian Starkey, 62, allegedly made the comments at a Sporting Equals Leadership event in November 2022, the Times reported.

Mr Starkey, who was also the chair of Bracknell Athletics Club in Berkshire, is accused of saying: "Usually when athletes start to be more specific in events, most black athletes tend to edge towards sprinting and hurdling ... the blacks are all good at running because they have to get away from their burglaries."

Mr Starkey has since resigned from non-executive roles at England Athletics. His UK Athletics coach and officials licences have also been revoked for two years.

A UK Athletics disciplinary panel banned him for three years and said "that holding a position in the governance structures of the national bodies was a higher position, and people in the sport should rightly look up to the people in those positions".

Julian Starkey
Julian Starkey. Picture: Facebook

A two year ban was too lenient when considering the severity of the misconduct".

Mr Starkey admitted that he had made the comment "subject to the caveat that there was a gap between the first sentence and the second sentence.

He also said he had been facing "mental issue challenges" at the time.

UK Athletics acknowledged his mental health issues, but said it did not compensate for his actions.

"He had behaved in a manner which England Athletics considered disgraceful," says the report.

Julian Starkey
Julian Starkey. Picture: Twitter

In its written decision, the panel said that “the comment made was a serious act of misconduct, and was totally unacceptable.

Read more: Chelsea fan banned for three years after making racist gesture at Tottenham star Son Heung-Min

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"Even taking into account the Claimant’s mental health, the comment was shocking," they added.

A statement from England Athletics said: “England Athletics operates a zero-tolerance approach towards discrimination and is committed to ensuring the sport of athletics provides an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment for everyone.

"Anyone wishing to report any incidents of discrimination is urged to do so through the appropriate channels.”

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