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Corruption in the British Marathon selection?


Following Charlotte Purdue’s unsuccessful appeal, the details of her omission from the GB Olympic Team are revealed. Trackstaa brings you the latest in a developing story for which UK Athletics is receiving significant criticism.

After Trackstaa brought you the developing story surrounding Charlotte Purdue’s startling exclusion from the GB Olympic marathon team, we can now reveal the details from behind the scenes that selectors are trying to keep out of the public eye. British Athletics’ decision has resulted in criticism from everywhere within the UK athletics scene, with a seemingly overwhelming majority supporting the assertion that Purdue has been treated unfairly; especially given that she was advised by the selectors not to run the trials and concentrate on her training.

As an athlete funded by British Athletics, Purdue is required to submit her medical records prior to selection which confirmed that she had experienced a previous “stress response”. This was reviewed by the British Athletics doctor who, interestingly, categorised this as a “bone condition” and a cause for concern. The doctor also added that, as a consequence, she could only be running for a maximum of 35 minutes which would inevitably prevent her from competing in the Olympics.  This conclusion was however, sources have confirmed to Trackstaa, given in spite of evidence to the contrary. As is required under the rules, her coach submitted evidence that she had been completing sessions, including a 10k tempo at paces around 3:20 per kilometre, and weekly mileages of over 80, demonstrating that her stress response was no longer an issue.

It seems that her status as a funded athlete has put Purdue at a significant disadvantage, as other selected athletes who are not in receipt of British Athletics’ funding, including Jess Piasecki, were not required to submit their medical records. Many critics have highlighted the fact that Piasecki, notwithstanding the fact she is a brilliant athlete in her own right, has nonetheless had three knee operations since January 2020 and is arguably a far bigger injury risk than Purdue. Sources close to the selection have told Trackstaa that Piasecki has been unable to cross train since January 2021 and is only now achieving runs of around 20 minutes in length.

Piasecki has, however, declared herself fully fit and ready to compete in the Olympic marathon. Understandably, given the obvious and substantial injury risk she presents, various observers remain perplexed at her inclusion whilst Purdue is overlooked for what many are calling a ‘non-issue’. Piasecki’s personal best of 2:25:28 is likely to be the overriding reason for her inclusion which she achieved at the Florence Marathon in November 2019. Although that race did not pass without controversy either as the organisers were required to alter the course at the last minute for safety reasons due to a gas leak. The alteration resulted in a course slightly shorter than the full marathon. Although Jess ran the second half of her race over three and half minutes quicker than the first half, race organisers were keen to stress after the race that the shorter course was only in place for all athletes finishing outside the top 42.

As fans and athletes alike digest an undoubtedly controversial selection decision, many will point to the fact that Steph Twell, the reigning British 10,000m champion, whose marathon PB of 2:26:40 is over a minute slower than Purdue, has openly confirmed her intention and desire to concentrate on the 10,000m for the Olympics in Tokyo and yet, in spite of that, still been picked ahead of Purdue.

Although her appeal has been rejected, it feels like there is some way to go on this story with more fallout expected over the coming weeks.

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