BSP-10 Former UK Athletics chief Neil Black dies aged 60

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ATHLETICS-GBR-BLACK

Former UK Athletics chief Neil Black dies aged 60

LONDON, April 21, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – Former UK Athletics performance
director Neil Black, who defended Mo Farah’s involvement with
now-banned coach Alberto Salazar, has died at the age of 60, the
governing body announced on Tuesday.

Black left his role last year after US authorities handed down a
four-year doping ban to Salazar, who ran the Nike-backed Oregon
Project training group in Portland.

Salazar worked closely with British distance runner Farah, who won
four Olympic gold medals on the track, two at London 2012 and two more
at Rio four years later.

A British Athletics statement read: “British Athletics is shocked
and saddened to confirm the loss of our friend and former colleague
Neil Black, who passed away suddenly at the weekend.

“Neil loved the sport of athletics and dedicated his life to
supporting athletes – as a world-class physiotherapist, as head of
sport science, and then in recent years as performance director for
British Athletics.”

Black was in charge when UK Athletics appointed Salazar, whom he
once described as a “genius”, as a consultant to its endurance
programme in 2013.

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) began investigating
Salazar in 2015 but UK Athletics reviewed his link with Farah at the
time and concluded there was “no reason to be concerned”.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing from Black or Farah, who also
has six world championship golds at 5,000 metres and 10,000m.

Black was a physiotherapist at UK Athletics before moving up the
ranks to take the top job.

He took up the UK Athletics performance director role in 2012 after
Charles van Commenee left his position as Olympic head coach.

Black stood down shortly after last year’s World Championships in
Doha, where Great Britain won just five medals, their worst
performance since 2005.

Former Olympic heptathlon bronze medallist
Kelly Sotherton, who worked with Black, tweeted: “He came everywhere
with me and made sure I was held together physically and mentally. So
many things I want to say… I’ll miss you forever Neil Black.”

Former sprinter Katharine Merry, who won bronze in the 400m at the
2000 Sydney Olympics, tweeted: “The passing of Neil Black is truly a
shock to the world of athletics.”

A tweet on the official Team GB account read: “Everyone at the
British Olympic Association is shocked and deeply saddened by the news
of the loss of Neil Black.

“Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this
extremely difficult time.”

BSS/AFP/MRU/1905hrs