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‘You Couldn’t Make It Up’: Athletics Coach Banned After Saying Black Athletes Are Fast Because They’re Used to Running Away from ‘Burglaries’; Blames His Mental Health

Over the next three years, a former British Athletics director will not be allowed to serve on a national governing body for competitive sports.

He has been banned from his position after alleging Black athletes ran faster than their white counterparts “because they have to get away from their burglaries.”

A shocking report released by a UK Athletics Disciplinary Panel noted that Julian Starkey, who was the chair of Bracknell Athletics Club and a licensed coach, made the inflammatory statements in November 2022 at a Sporting Equals Leadership event, according to The Telegraph.

Starkey was asked about why certain groups of ethnicities tend to gravitate to certain sports over time.

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He reportedly answered, “Usually when athletes start to be more specific in events, most Black athletes tend to edge towards sprinting and hurdling … the Blacks are all good at running because they have to get away from their burglaries.”

Starkey, 62, did not deny making the bigoted statements after they were brought before England Athletics and UK Athletics boards. He said the statement was not expressed in its totality, adding, “There was a gap between the first sentence and the second sentence.” 

He said he made the derogatory comments while he was dealing with some “mental health challenges,” and that influenced the shameful statements.

The boards accepted his rationale but did not excuse his actions.

As a result, the organizations both came up with a solution, to ban the coach for multiple years.

“Holding a position in the governance structures of the national bodies [is] a higher position and people in the sport should rightly look up to the people in those positions,” the UK Athletics panel wrote in its decision.  “A two-year ban was too lenient when considering the severity of the misconduct.”

According to the England Athletics panel, “He had behaved in a manner which England Athletics considered disgraceful.”

“The comment made was a serious act of misconduct and was totally unacceptable,” the panel stated in its written decision. “Even taking into account the Claimant’s mental health, the comment was shocking.”

The swift response to his comments set off a ripple of events, including in December 2022 his resigning from his non-executive roles at England Athletics and having his UK Athletics coach and official licenses revoked for the next two years.

The England Athletics organization took it a step further, suspending his membership for six months and issuing a “warning in respect of the serious misconduct committed.”

EA maintains it takes conduct like Starkey’s very seriously.

In a statement, the board said, “England Athletics operates a zero-tolerance approach towards discrimination and is committed to ensuring the sport of athletics provides an inclusive, safe, and welcoming environment for everyone.”

“Anyone wishing to report any incidents of discrimination is urged to do so through the appropriate channels.”

The public seemed to be pleased with the decision.

One Twitter user said, “Good to see this racist served with a ban – shame it wasn’t longer.”

Another wrote it was “Institutional racism at its finest.”

“You couldn’t make it up,” one Twitter user wrote in response to Starkey’s comment.

Not everyone was upset about the comments. Phil Soskin wrote, “Once upon a time this would have been seen as humour.”

Barry Hill chimed in, adding, “Those were the days.”

House of Ola also commented. She said, “Yep, and even then, it was racist. Just because people find it funny don’t mean it’s ok.”

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