The British businessman had faced increasing pressure to step down from his position at the national governing body

Richard Bowker is to step down as UK Athletics (UKA) chairman and will leave the organisation at the end of this month, the national governing body has confirmed.

As AW reported last month, after one year in the role, which he took over from Ed Warner, Bowker had faced increasing pressure to quit after a crucial UK members’ council meeting and AGM showed a lack of confidence in his leadership.

Former British marathon record-holder Sarah Rowell, a current member of the UKA board, is to become interim chair.

In a statement, the national governing body said: “During his tenure as chairman, Richard Bowker has led the development of new strategies for key areas including talent development, competition and coaching, that will help the sport maintain its position as one of the leading Olympic and Paralympic sports in the UK over the Tokyo and Paris cycles.

“It was also during his tenure that the innovative Athletics World Cup launched – an event that is expected to build on its successful first edition and become a fixture in the IAAF calendar in the years ahead.

“The Board wishes to express its gratitude for Richard’s hard work, dedication and leadership over this period. Further announcements outlining the process for appointing a new chair will be made in due course.”

Political infighting in British athletics is not new, as AW editor Jason Henderson’s blog post here explains, but the recent problems have been the worst for several years.

Bowker has failed to sell his plans for the organisation, which involved merging UKA with England Athletics – an idea that England Athletics told AW would definitely not happen.

His resignation also follows the departure of chief executive Niels de Vos, who left UKA in September, which means the governing body has spent the entire winter so far dealing with a leadership crisis which has frustrated and angered the grassroots of the sport.

Rowell said: “I am honoured to take this role and alongside the board am committed to ensuring the sport comes together to work to ensure that it is in great shape for the Doha World Championships later this year and the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020, while laying the foundations for the Paris cycle thereafter.

“This means ensuring that the core at the heart of the sport – the clubs, coaches and volunteers – are best placed to support current and future generations of athletes.”