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Reedie's IOC failure leaves Britain out in cold, again

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Mihir Bose | 12:54 UK time, Thursday, 7 August 2008

Sir Craig Reedie's failure to get elected to the Executive Board of the IOC shows that Britain is still failing to punch its weight in the corridors of power in world sport.

This has been a persistent British problem going back many decades. The last time Britain had an IOC EB member was nearly half a century ago.

This time it was felt Reedie stood a very good chance of getting elected. London will be the next Olympic city and the IOC tradition is that the IOC member from the next host country gets on the Board to act as the Executive's eyes and ears for the forthcoming Games.

Sir Craig Reedie (right) was influential in helping London win the battle to stage the 2012 Games

There were two general seats up for grabs on the Executive Board here in Beijing.

The curious way the IOC election works sees candidates put their name down for both seats. The problem for Reedie was that he faced two other strong candidates - Richard Carrion and Nawal El Moutawakel.

Carrion, as chairman of Finance, had the backing of President Jacques Rogge; Nawal, as the first Arab woman to win gold in Los Angeles in 1984, ticked all the boxes. If Nawal did not get elected, it would have meant that after Beijing, the Executive Board would have been all-male - hardly the image the IOC would want to project.

Before the election it was felt Nawal would get elected but Reedie might defeat Carrion. Carrion is not as much of a glad hander in the IOC as Reedie, who had done a fair bit more campaigning than Carrion.

But on Wednesday evening, just after the nominations closed, Carrion did a rather clever thing. He got up and said that he was withdrawing from one of the two seats in favour of Nawal to make sure she won.

Reedie had just come of the platform where London 2012 had been making its latest presentation to the IOC session. Carrion caught him by surprise and he had barely two minutes to think about how to respond.

Forced by Carrion in this position, he responded by saying he would also withdraw from one of the two seats to give Nawal an unopposed election. And like Carrion he would contest the other seat, making it a straight contest between the two.

Talking to IOC members afterwards it was clear Carrion's gesture made a big impression on them. Add to this Rogge's support and Thursday morning's result was done and dusted - Carrion got 56 votes to Reedie's 39.

This is the second time Reedie has failed to get elected to the Executive Board. He was philosophical after the result and clearly plans to contest again next year.

He told me: "It would have been an honour to be on the Executive Board between Beijing and London. But I am still confident for the future."

However the larger problem of how Britain achieves that to gain influence and representation on the IOC Executive Board still needs to be addressed.

It is easy to dismiss these men as the blazer brigade, but they run world sports and Britain cannot afford to be out in the cold.

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