Sport Ireland confirms change in maternity policy to guarantee pregnant athletes 12-months' pay

Irish former racewalker Olive Loughnane fell pregnant during her career (PA Images)
8:17am, Fri 20 Dec 2019
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Sport Ireland have announced a maternity policy which will guarantee pregnant athletes funding for a year.

The agreement reached means carded athletes will be given financial support up to the birth and will continue until six months afterwards.

Following high-profile controversy around sportswomen such as Allyson Felix, chief executive of Sport Ireland John Treacy has reassured Irish competitors that the organisation is looking out for what's best for them.

"The athlete is at the heart of everything we do," he said.

"[The policy] will give our athletes peace of mind and support in their decision to start a family and continue to compete," he added.

Retired Olympic race walker Olive Loughnane was one athlete who fell pregnant during her sporting career.

And the 43-year-old Irishwoman, who is now also a Sport Ireland board member, welcomed the progressive move.

"As one of many athletes whose best performances followed the birth of my daughter, I'm really excited to see the introduction of this policy," she said.

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"It is really positive that female sportspeople will be able to make a life choice that is right for them, safe in the knowledge that they will be supported by their National Governing Bodies and Sport Ireland".

American athlete, and six-time Olympic gold medallist, Allyson Felix said Nike wanted to pay her 70 per cent less after she became a mother.

In August, Nike changed its contracts for pregnant athletes saying they would not be handed any form of performance-related reduction for 18 months after becoming pregnant.