LONDON (AP) — Neil Black, a British track and field official who worked closely with many of the country’s best athletes over the past three decades, including Mo Farah, has died. He was 60.
Black died suddenly over the weekend, British Athletics said Tuesday without disclosing any details.
Black was performance director of British Athletics from 2012 until last year, when he stepped down after coming under pressure because of the organization’s handling of a controversy involving Alberto Salazar, who was banned for four years for doping violations. Black stood by Salazar and the coach’s work as a consultant to the British team after a BBC investigation of the tainted Nike Oregon Project run by Salazar.
Since last year, Black has been working with Farah — whose Olympic gold medals came under the coaching of Salazar — and other athletes and coaches as an advisor.
“Neil supported me all the way in my career since I was kid..!! My heart is broken,” Farah said on Twitter. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without Neil Black.”
British Athletics said it was “shocked and saddened” by Black’s death.
“Neil will be hugely missed by those that knew and worked with him,” British Athletics said. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Black has worked with Britain’s top athletes since the 1990s. He was British Athletics’ chief physiotherapist from 2004, led the sports medicine and science department from 2007, and then became its performance director after the 2012 London Olympics.
Aside from Farah, Black also worked closely with other British track greats like Sally Gunnell, Linford Christie, Colin Jackson, Jonathan Edwards and Jessica Ennis.
“He came everywhere with me and made sure I was held together physically and mentally,” former British heptathlete Kelly Sotherton wrote on Twitter. “So many things I want to say… I’ll miss you forever.”
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