Radcliffe hails athletics for fostering pay parity

LONDON • Athletics may be submerged in doping scandals, but Paula Radcliffe believes it deserves credit for its promotion of equal pay for men and women - even if she was once fobbed off with a table lamp for winning a race.

The thorny topic of gender equality in sport came to the fore this week when Raymond Moore, director of the joint men's and women's tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, said female players should "get down on (their) knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born".

Moore's remarks implied that women's tennis was not a drawcard for spectators and the ensuing furore led to his resignation.

But that was not the end of the matter, with world No. 1 Novak Djokovic suggesting he and his male colleagues should receive more money than their female counterparts because they had more spectators watching their matches.

Djokovic pulled back from his comments but Radcliffe, a former world marathon champion and still the world record holder in the event, said the debate had raised some important questions.

"Some other sports have to do a little bit of catching up and the media has a role to play in that as well," the Briton said on Friday.

However, she added that athletics had not always taken such a progressive attitude.

"On one occasion when I was 16, I did a road race and won," Radcliffe recalled. "The athlete who won the men's race won a TV - and I won a table lamp!

"But now it's parity across the board in all IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and road race events.

"Yes, some fighting had to be done to get women to take part in marathon events.

"But now we have parity in our sport, we're very lucky."

Along with the tennis controversy in California, this week also saw Britain's Tour of Yorkshire event announce the biggest prize fund ever offered for a women's cycling race.

By tennis standards, the sums are modest with a total prize fund of £50,000 (S$97,000) where £15,000 is on offer to the winner.

But the cheque for finishing first still amounts to more than three times the sum collected by world champion Lizzie Armitstead when she took the global title in Richmond, Virginia last year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 27, 2016, with the headline 'Radcliffe hails athletics for fostering pay parity'. Print Edition | Subscribe