British track officials on Saturday were told to ban South African-born runner Zola Budd for a year or face the possibility of having all their athletes banned from the summer Olympics in Seoul.
The International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) council after two days of meetings urged the British Amateur Athletic Board (BAAB) to punish Budd for her involvement in a track meet in South Africa last year.The IAAF, the international governing body for amateur track and field, warned that if the British failed to ban Budd, they would have to consider suspending the BAAB and dealing with the 21-year-old runner themselves.
British track officials must now decide whether to drop their support for Budd, now a British citizen, or face a ban themselves with the prospect of seeing every other British athlete suspended from the competition worldwide.
A long-awaited IAAF statement released on Saturday said: "If the BAAB fails to take such action as is necessary the Council will have to consider exercising its suspensive powers against the BAAB. It will also consider the matter of Miss Budd further."
The statement continued: "It was clear Miss Budd greatly exceeded the bounds of being a mere spectator at a cross-country meeting at Brakpan, South Africa.
"Not only was she there in her training gear, but she trained on and near the course in full view of the crowd and at one stage by her own admission actually ran alongside ineligible runners in order to support them.
"The Council is particularly concerned by Miss Budd's fraternizing, within a sporting environment, with members of a suspended federation from a country which openly practices racial and other kinds of discrimination in open violation of IAAF principles and rules."
BAAB spokesman Tony Ward defended Budd.
"We have always believed Zola did nothing wrong because she did not actually compete in the race. Now the IAAF have put a wider interpretation on the rules and it is something we shall have to look at closely."
Budd heard the verdict at her home in Guildford, outside London, on Saturday morning and would not comment.
But English Amateur Athletics Association (AAA) secretary Mike Farrell, who represented her at the hearing, said: "She sounded upset when we broke the news."
British Member of Parliament John Carlisle issued a strong statement of support for the star distance runner.
"Zola has committed no crime. If this means we don't go to Seoul so be it. We should hold our heads up in honor rather than go to Seoul in shame," he said.
Carlisle, a member of the ruling Conservative party, accused the IAAF of "total surrender to left-wing pressure."
He said: "If Zola Budd does not go to Seoul, athletics is finished as a sport, taken over completely by the politicians."