Powell petition questions the Jamaican's impact on Stawell Gift

THE Victorian Runners and Trainers Association has voiced its concern on Jamaican sprint sensation Asafa Powell entering this year's Stawell Gift.

Association president Shane McKenzie sent an email out yesterday asking athletes and trainers to complete a survey about the potential impact Powell's entry may have on the $40,000 race and its competing athletes.

The email states that the survey will be presented to the Victorian Athletic League and Stawell Athletic Club next week 'to ensure fairness and equality to the greatest number of competitors possible'.

Stawell Gift promoter David Culbert said it was disappointing the survey had been released without consultation from the Stawell Athletic Club.

"If there's a group of athletes that are unhappy then they should raise these discussions directly," he said.

Mr Culbert believes the questions in the survey are 'classic push-poll questions pointing to a particular answer'.

He said there would be no point in bringing Powell to the gift if the handicap was increased beyond 11 metres.

"The Stawell Gift is the premier foot race in Australia and it has got the biggest prize," he said.

"If you can't beat the back marker by 12 metres which is 10 per cent of the distance then you don't deserve to win it."

Stawell Athletic Club vented its frustrations via Facebook yesterday, alerting the public that it had no input into the survey.

"We were not consulted in this process and believe that this is not the way to effect change via a one-sided and leading survey," the post read.

The survey came just days after the news that Ballarat Gift handicappers will give dual Stawell champion Josh Ross a 'behind scratch' handicap of up to 0.75 metres.

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