Athletics Ireland reject English appeal

The sport’s governing body today rejected an appeal from the Finn Valley AC 800m star, a three-time European medalist.

The 27-year-old broke the Finn Valley AC 800m record at an event in Lignano Sabbiadoro, setting a new mark of 1:48.41, and had high hopes of overturning the decision to block him from attempting to land a 15th Irish title.

Self-isolation requirements, laid down by Athletics Ireland in May, when the country was in the grip of the Covid-19 lockdown, will prevent English from defending his 800m title.

Although Italy, where English raced on August 17, is a ‘green list’ country and exempt from the Irish government’s regulations on quarantine, Athletics Ireland insist on isolation for athletes traveling from anywhere abroad.

Former Irish Olympic Team Manager Patsy McGonagle, the chairperson of Finn Valley AC, represented English via Zoom at the appeal hearing.

A three-person appeal committee heard the case with the chief executive Hamish Adams and Kieron Stout representing Athletics Ireland.

McGonagle had been vocal in his criticism of the decision originally, saying that Athletics Ireland had ‘devised and imposed a rule which is penalising elite athletes’.

The 68-time Irish manager said the governing body ‘should be ashamed of themselves’ in denying English the opportunity to become the first man to win eight Irish outdoor titles over 800m.

Ciara Mageean said she was ‘really disappointed’ by the decision and Irish athletics icon Sonia O’Sulivan told RTÉ: “It’s really disappointing that Athletics Ireland didn’t move along with Government guidelines, and change as things were evolving. If you break it down, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

English’s fellow middle distance runner Nadia Power was in a similar situation after competing in Finland, also a green list country and did not get to compete last weekend in the 1,500m.

Due to timing, Power will be able to line up in the women’s 800m this weekend.


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