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Gift winner fined for inconsistent performances

Gift winner fined for inconsistent performances

Tom Burbidge collected $40,000 Australian dollars ($36,800) for winning the country's most prestigious professional gift race on Monday and was immediately fined A$5,000 ($4,600) by the Victorian state Athletic League for inconsistent performances.
The 25-year-old Burbidge started the weekend as a 30-1 chance but became an odds-on favorite to win the 129th running of the Stawell Gift after dominating the heats on Saturday.
He finished the 120-meter race in 12.01 seconds, starting off a handicap mark of 8.75 meters, to beat Dale Woodhams (12.12) and Douglas Greenough (12.24).
Burbidge had been run out in the semifinals of a Melbourne gift race in the semifinals eight days earlier in a time more than one-second slower than his winning run at Stawell.
The Victorian Athletic League ruled that Burbidge had underperformed in the Melbourne event, which gave him an improved handicap in the Stawell race.
But Burbidge's coach, Matt Beckenham, blamed irregular back problems for his athlete's differing performances.
"It's a steep fine but there's rules and regulations that you have to deal with," Beckenham was quoted as saying. "He's not doing that on purpose ... but the fact is that his last two runs haven't been great because his back has been sore."
Beckenham said the VAL was doing its job and Burbidge accepted the fine.
Steve Hooker, the world and Olympic pole vault champion, was the highest-profile athlete in the competition but withdrew before the semifinals due to a groin injury.
The Stawell Gift made international headlines in 2008 when the then defending champion was charged with importing anabolic steroids into Australia.
Nathan Allen, the 2007 winner, was arrested shortly after appearing at the official race launch by Victorian state police, three days before he was to defend his title.
He was banned by the International athletics federation for two years.


Updated : 2021-04-12 09:33 GMT+08:00