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Rowe, Pearson face funding cuts

Sally Pearson and runner Alex Rowe are being financially penalised by Athletics Australia for being unable to attend the entire Commonwealth Games training camp.

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NEWCASTLE, England- Athletics Australia has insisted that three star athletes whom they admitted had done the “right and sensible thing” by not attending a pre-Commonwealth Games camp should also be stripped of funding for not attending that camp.

Olympic champion Sally Pearson, new joint national record holder Alex Rowe and reigning Commonwealth gold medal discus thrower Benn Harradine were all financially punished despite doing what their sporting body says was the smart thing to do.

Pearson, Rowe and Harradine all lost a third of their pre-games funding because they did not arrive in the team camp in Gateshead, England, before a July 17 deadline after each had decided competing elsewhere was more important.

Alex Rowe fronts the media in Gateshead, England after his funding was cut by Athletics Australia.

Alex Rowe fronts the media in Gateshead, England after his funding was cut by Athletics Australia. Photo: Getty Images

In Rowe’s case he is being fined $860 – or a third of his pre-games funding – because he ran in Monaco in the race in which he equalled a national record in the 800m that has stood for 46 years.

Pearson opted out of the camp because she is scrambling to compete in as many races as possible to recover peak fitness after injury. She competed in the Anniversary Games in London on Sunday rather than attend the Gateshead camp.

Pearson ran third in the London meet in The Mall, coming in behind Briton Tiffany Porter and reigning world champion Brianna Rollins in a time of 12.71s.

Like Rowe, Pearson will lose a third of her funding but as an athlete on a higher funding rate than Rowe she will be docked more than the young Melbourne university student’s $860.

Athletics Australia High Performance Manager Simon Nathan admitted the athletes had all done the right thing but they were all being financially punished anyway.

He then in the press conference mistakenly quoted Rowe as being out of pocket $1300 not the $860 he will be docked because he joined the team as a B qualifying athlete not an A. Regardless, Rowe is not receiving a third of his preparation funding.

“We are, and I know it probably doesn’t look like it or feel like it, we are a sensible organisation, and we will … make sure none of the preparations for those athletes is compromised by what happens here but there is a clear message about how we operate.

“(Rowe) did the sensible thing not coming through (the camp) , and in a sporting sense he did the sensible thing but there had to be a consequence for that because other people did come through and changed heir plans in other ways.

“None of (Pearson, Rowe or Harradine) are deliberately avoiding the camp, none of them are trying to undermine anything they are doing the right things for themselves but I wanted to have some consistency along the way.”

Nathan said he admitted Rowe could not have foreseen months ago that he would be invited to compete in Monaco and he had done the right thing by competing there and not attending the camp.

“What I wanted (Rowe) to do is what he did to be honest … but for him to do that then there is a consequence,” Nathan said.

“(Racing in Monaco) was the right place for (Rowe) to be - he needed to run against (world record holder and Olympic gold medallist David) Rudisha but it meant he didn’t come through the camp.

“I would rather Alex in a perfect world came in earlier in to the camp and had still been able to get across to Monaco but circumstances didn’t work that way and so he did the sensible thing of not coming through.”

Nathan admitted that despite the fact the athletes had done what was right it was a case of “bad luck”.

He said he would review the situation for future camps and that “it’s not something I would have chosen if I lived my life again but I think being consistent is incredibly important.”

Rowe was generous and diplomatic about the situation saying he had known the situation and was only disappointed there was no discretionary rule that could have applied.

“I knew as part of the agreement if I missed the team camp by the 19th I would forgo some funding. I knew that and I accepted those consequences,” he said.

“I made the decision to go straight to Monaco as the best preparation possible. I wanted that Australian record so it is not about some small issue of funding it is about running fast times.

“I have run the time and I am absolutely thrilled and I am saying this honestly I haven’t given (the funding) a thought ... As the rules state in the agreement I knew what I was getting into. Do I agree with the rules? Well they are the rules and I knew what they were.

“Potentially if there was a discretionary clause within that maybe I would have liked that to have been exercised but there wasn’t. Having said that you have to look at the support Athletics Australia have provided me through my whole career.”