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Football shouldn't be at the Olympics; Greene: Team GB will overshadow athletes.

Byline: EMYR JONES

WORLD 400m hurdles champion Dai Greene has criticised the inclusion of a British football team at the London 2012 Games, insisting "there is no place for it at the Olympics".

The British Olympic Association have faced opposition to a team from the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish soccer associations because they want to protect their footballing independence.

Welsh athlete Greene, though, opposes the idea because he fears more traditional Olympic sports could be "overshadowed" by football next summer.

"I don't think the football team should be there in the first place," he said.

"I hope that those big names don't overshadow those people who have trained for four years to be there for that one moment. These guys have four to five weeks off in the summer then become an Olympian. It does seem a little bit out of place.

"These guys wants to win Premierships, Champions League trophies and World Cup medals.

"They don't grow up wanting to be an Olympic champion, they want to be the best in football.

"The crowning glory in football isn't being Olympic champion so I don't think their sport should necessarily be involved - or at least at a professional level."

The former youth-team footballer added: "Most athletes would agree with what I'm saying. There's no place for it at the Olympics.

"When some guy wins a gold medal in badminton or swimming, they want it to be about them and their hard work and their story to get there.

"But sadly in some of the papers that might be overshadowed with what David Beckham had for breakfast maybe - and that is not a great story from our point of view.

"I'm all for players representing Team GB but I wish there wasn't a Team GB in the first place."

Meanwhile, the lifetime ban on serious drug cheats receiving public funding will be maintained even if the British Olympic Association are forced to scrap their own lifetime exclusion for doping offenders, the head of UK Sport has insisted.

The BOA are facing a battle in court after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ruled that their by-law violates the global code.

Liz Nicholl, chief executive of funding body UK Sport, said that the policy of a life ban on funding for any athlete who has received a two-year suspension for a doping offence will be maintained - whatever the outcome of the BOA case.

Nicholl said: "This a very different thing to the BOA by-law. This is a very clear rule we have which is entirely to do with public funding.

"The principle here is that public investment is a privilege and not a right, and a ban from public funding does not restrict an athlete plying their trade and competing at all events.

"It just means they cannot be a recipient of public funding via UK Sport.

"A two-year ban means a significant doping offence and it is then our funding principle kicks in, which is a lifetime ban from receiving public funding for sport."

CAPTION(S):

Dai Greene says the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale (inset) have no place at the Olympics because they will overshadow the other athletes
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 23, 2011
Words:530
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