Zara Hyde Peters’ position as the new chief executive of UK Athletics is under review after questions were raised over whether she allowed her husband to coach at a local athletics club after he had an “inappropriate relationship” with a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
Hyde Peters, who is due to start her £200,000 role on 1 December, is accused of failing to alert members of Coventry Godiva Harriers about her husband Mike Peters’ teaching ban when she was coaching co-ordinator and vice-chair at the club between 2012 and 2017.
UK Athletics is understood to back Hyde Peters, who maintains her husband never directly coached under-18 athletes following the incident with the pupil, and therefore the club did not have to be told about his past. However, the UKA chair, Chris Clark, said it would be instigating a review to ensure no wrongdoing had taken place.
“I fully support Zara’s appointment as CEO and feel she will do an excellent job,” he said. “There can be no compromise, however, on matters relating to welfare and safeguarding and it’s important we clarify the facts and processes undertaken as well as the decisions made in relation to the issues raised. The UK Athletics welfare team will work with all parties concerned and with my personal oversight as chairman to review the matter fully and report back to me.”
Despite UKA’s backing, Hyde Peters could still face calls to step aside from the UKA members’ council when it meets on 12 December. UK Sport, which has funded UK Athletics to the tune of £27m during the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics, also expressed its concerns.
“Clearly the accusations laid out are extremely serious and we are in urgent discussions with UK Athletics to seek all of the facts,” it said in a statement. “We treat safeguarding matters with the utmost importance and all our investments into national governing bodies are contingent on a sport meeting standards set out by the Child Protection In Sport Unit (CPSU) and the Ann Craft Trust (in relation to Adults at Risk).”
While Peters was acquitted of sexual misconduct, the official judgment against him found him guilty of “misconduct of a serious nature”, which included an “exchange of inappropriate photographs” with a vulnerable pupil while he was a PE teacher at Bilton High School in Warwickshire.
Peters was also criticised for not taking reasonable steps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the pupil “despite being aware of the fact that she was suffering from issues related to low self-esteem and depression”.