Medal Hopes, the Government scheme to raise cash for potential Olympians, is “flawed” and should be “completely reworked”, say sports bodies.
The calls come just days after responsibility for the scheme was transferred from the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to athletics body UK Sport.
It is understood there are concerns that using athletes to promote local schemes.
Peter King, head of British Cycling, says the idea to use athletes’ time is a “non-starter” and predicts conflicts of interests between athletes’ own sponsors, sports sponsors and potential sponsors of Medal Hopes.
British Athletes Commission chief executive Peter Gardner adds that using athletes to generate income through special appearances is “not the best use of athletes’ time” and “not cost effective”. Gardner, who heads the body that represents the UK’s world-class athletes, says the scheme “unquestionably needs revisiting”.
There is optimism that UK Sport, now tasked with leading the search for funding, will revamp the scheme. Gardner says: “UK Sport has a closer understanding of what is going to be possible.”
UK Sport was last week handed the task of raising £50m to plug the gap in funding for elite athletes left after the DCMS failed to raise any money from the commercial sector despite appointing sports agency Fast Track (mw.co.uk June 26).
Cash injections of £21m from the National Lottery and, more recently, £29m from the Treasury reduced the gap to £50m but still led to accusations the Government has failed to live up to its funding promise to British sport (MW December 2). Several sports have seen their funding slashed as a result.