STAWELL - Organisers of the 2013 Australia Post Stawell Gift have expressed their disappointment over the controversy created by the inclusion of Jamaican sprint superstar, Asafa Powell.
Earlier this week, the Victorian Runners and Trainers Association sent an email to Victorian Athletics League trainers and athletes, asking them to complete a survey about Powell's entry.
The Association was interested to hear the thoughts of the athletes on how Powell's inclusion may impact on the $40,000 Australia Post Stawell Gift and the 120-plus athletes competing in the event.
The email detailed that the results of the survey will be presented to the VAL Board and the Stawell Athletic Club at the Ballarat Gift meeting and 'will contribute to the decision making process on Asafa's handicap.'
It went on to say the reasoning behind the move was to 'ensure fairness and equality to the greatest number of competitors possible.'
Stawell Athletic Club president, Scotney Hayter said the club was disappointed that they were not consulted in the production of the survey.
He stood by the stance it had taken on social networking website Facebook.
"We had no input into the survey developed by the Victorian Runners and Trainers Association and distributed to the running fraternity by the Victorian Athletic League," Mr Hayter said.
"We were not consulted in this process and believe that this is not the way to effect change via a onesided and leading survey."
Australia Post Stawell Gift promoter David Culbert echoed Mr Hayter's sentiments, saying it was disappointing that the Athletic Club had not been consulted 'particularly given how onesided the survey is.'
"Surveying athletes - no one is against it, we do it every year after the Gift, but this one is effectively asking questions designed to get a response to lift handicaps," he said.
"The covering letter is also of concern to the club. It insinuates 'fill this out and you will get a change to handicaps'."
Stawell Athletic Club has an agreement with the Victorian Athletic League and has also expressed its disappointment in the VAL for allowing the survey to be sent out.
"We agree on conditions of the race and last year we raised the handicap limit to 11 metres from 10," Mr Culbert said.
Mr Culbert said the club was happy with the 11 metre handicap limit, but if it were to go up to 12 it wouldn't be a problem.
"Any move to increase the limit beyond 12 metres and the Stawell Athletic Club will express the view that that's not going to happen."
Mr Hayter believes that the constant handicap speculation won't deter international stars from attending the Easter carnival.
"Every year there is always this discussion," he said.
"People are always concerned that the handicap limit might not be enough."
Mr Hayter said it is rare for a backmarker to win the prestigious event and pointed out the difference of competing in the Olympic sprint events compared to the Stawell Gift.
"Also you have to remember, Asafa is coming off his off-season and he doesn't compete on grass," Mr Hayter said.
"Look at (Michael) Frater last year, he wasn't hitting the gate and had trouble there.
"I'm not sure if he (Powell) has run with ropes beside him and it is uphill one to two metres from start to finish. It (the Gift) is a different style event to what he would normally run."
Mr Hayter said the response to the Athletic Club's post on Facebook has been positive.
The Stawell Athletic Club will hold their meeting with the Victorian Athletics League tomorrow at the Ballarat Gift.