Key British Wrestling figures face calls to quit

By Nick HopeBBC Olympic sports reporter

Less than a year before the London Olympics, key figures within British Wrestling have been asked to resign.

Scottish Wrestling have proposed the motions which will be voted on at the sport's AGMexternal-link in Manchester on Saturday.

It follows concerns over the selection policy adopted at the recent World Championships and allegations of "interference" in regional matters.

"It's time to stand up and be counted, rather than hanging on," said Scottish Wrestling (SWA) President Gerry Maloneexternal-link.

British Wrestlingexternal-link insist they wish to resolve any issues raised before they cause any further disruption to their preparations for next year's Olympics.

"There appears to be a feeling amongst the Scottish Executive that British Wrestling will take any chance to undermine their programme which is targeted at the 2014 Commonwealth Games," British Wrestling chief executive Colin Nicholsonexternal-link told BBC Sport.

"However nothing could be further from the truth. A strong wrestling programme in Scotland must be good for wrestling across the UK."

British wrestling took a squad of seven athletesexternal-link to the World Championships in Turkey this year, two of whom were Scottish. However, they were asked to pay for travel and cover their own expenses - at a cost of roughly £1,200 each.

Nicholson says this was in keeping with their policy to only fund athletes on their podium programme, which due to a reduced Olympic budget, consists of five athletes.

However, Scottish Wrestling have taken issue with this.

"If you look at the selection for the Worlds - out of the four million pounds they [British Wrestling] have received [from UK Sport since 2005], they have created just four home-grown podium athletes.

"Wrestlers need the opportunities in order raise their level of performance. It shouldn't be whether your parents are rich enough to pay for you.

The selection of Nath Akerman for the World Championships was a particular source of frustration.

While Welsh wrestler Sarah Connolly's bid to self-fund her expenses at the World Championships were turned down, Akerman - who only returned to the sport earlier this year - was allowed to travel and compete with the British team.

This act led to the call for the removal of GB performance director Shaun Morleyexternal-link and members of the selection board.

Chairman Malcolm Morleyexternal-link and chief executive Colin Nicholson have also been censured over a number of issues, including an allegation that Scottish Wrestling have been blocked from entering international competitions in their own right - an ability they see as vital to their preparation to Glasgow 2014external-link.

However, Nicholson told BBC Sport that they 'categorically deny' the accusations.

Unrest within the British wrestling ranks is nothing new - earlier this year several British wrestlers voiced their frustration that foreign athletes, originally recruited as sparing partners to work with the GB team, were in fact 'taking the place' of home-grown wrestlers in competitions.

"British Wrestling is very concerned about the public perception," said Nicholson.

"It is disappointing that the British Wrestling Executive is continually distracted from moving our sport forward.

Nicholson added; "British Wrestling would, however, like to cooperate fully with the Scottish Wrestling Programme."

Six voting members from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will decide whether to pass the motions which call for the resignation of key figures from British Wrestling.

The outcome of the vote is likely to then be discussed at a later date in a meeting with the British Wrestling Board.

In a statement, Liz Nichollexternal-link, CEO of UK Sport, told the BBC that the organisation would 'monitor all relevant developments' and continue to work closely with the sport following the outcome of AGM.

The full agenda for this weekend's AGM in Manchester can be found on the British Wrestling websiteexternal-link.