Andrew Butchart, the 5,000m runner, could yet lose his Team GB spot for the Tokyo Olympics after giving an interview in which he describes faking a negative Covid test to return to Britain – a claim he later retracted.
Butchart was one of 65 additional track and field athletes named on the British athletics team on Tuesday, having earned his spot when finishing second at the Olympic trials on Saturday.
However, he then gave a podcast interview explaining how “everybody has faked PCR tests” to get back into Britain after competing at international meets.
UK Athletics confirmed his place on the British team would stand for now “subject to further investigation”.
“I’m not going to get in trouble from the police or anything like that,” Butchart told The Sunday Plodcast. “You have to get a Covid test to get into the UK, so you went to a place to get a PCR test before 48 hours – and I’m with check-in and I don’t have my PCR test back.
“So you have to quickly, like, get an old PCR test, go on to Instagram, f—— scribble out the time and the date, change the time and the date, and like change it so you can get into the country.
“Obviously Covid is huge, but it’s quite annoying. Having to deal with all the testing and protocols, blah, blah, blah, it’s a b—ache. Everybody has faked PCR tests, I’m sure, to try and go somewhere, because it’s just so hard.”
Andrew Butchart (L) earned his spot when finishing second at the Olympic trials on Saturday
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
In a later statement, he denied that he had personally faked a Covid test but knew of athletes who had done so.
“I have never falsified a PCR test and have always complied with the guidelines of the countries I have been travelling in,” he told The Times.
“The context of the podcast was about how hard it has been for athletes during the pandemic to travel and race, as you are depending on lots of factors that are out of your control.
“I used the example of athletes I know having to use previous PCR results to get through check-in but not immigration. To confirm I have not done this but know of people who have.
“I perhaps glorified the situation for the podcast but I apologise if it came across the wrong way or caused any offence to anyone, in particular Team GB and the Japanese Organising Committee, who I know are working so hard to make the Games safe for everyone.”
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Confirming their investigation, a UK Athletics spokesperson said: “UKA and the BOA are aware of comments made as part of a podcast by a selected athlete today.
“Throughout the pandemic elite sport has been privileged to receive exemptions from various guidelines to enable athletes to continue to train and compete.
“We take very seriously any suggestion that an athlete has not followed these guidelines correctly and broken any Covid-related protocols.
“As a result, this selection will stand subject to further investigation by UK Athletics. No further comment will be made until this investigation is concluded.”
Dina Asher-Smith will spearhead Britain’s medal charge in Tokyo, contesting the 100m, 200m and 4x100m, while her fellow world champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson has been named in the team for the heptathlon despite not competing since suffering a serious Achilles injury earlier this year. Her selection is "subject to demonstrating fitness ahead of Tokyo", with her return to competition expected in France this week.
Laura Muir will attempt an 800/1,500m double after the selectors awarded her the final discretionary spot in the shorter event alongside Keely Hodgkinson and Jemma Reekie.
European 100m champion Zharnel Hughes has been given a 100m place despite false-starting in the British Championships final last weekend. Reece Prescod has also been picked despite failing to break 10.33 seconds on his return from injury this year.