International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch on Wednesday withdrew his suggestion of giving British runner Sebastian Coe a unique "wild card" invitation to next month's Seoul Games.
The IOC chief indicated he was bowing to sharp criticism of his plan by other British Olympic athletes, including Steve Cram, the world mile record-holder and one of Coe's biggest middle distance rivals."The Olympic charter is very clear. It says only three athletes per country" and a wild card is "quite impossible" under International Amateur Athletic Federation rules, Samaranch told British Broadcasting Corp.
"But, always, if you have a consensus, it is possible to go farther than the rules," he told BBC. "But if some people say yes and some people say no, obviously it's much better not to move.
"I am very, very sorry, but I think Sebastian Coe will not be present in the Olympic Games," Samaranch told Britain's ITN television network.
Coe, a two-time 1,500-meter Olympic champion, was left off the British squad for Seoul after a disastrous performance in the national trials two weeks ago.
Samaranch's controversial initiative followed a rejection by British track chiefs of an unprecedented plea by the IOC chief to add Coe to the roster.
The board described the request as extraordinary and said it could not find room for Coe, 31.
Coe has earned Samaranch's friendship as an outspoken opponent of drugs in sport and as a member of the IOC's Athletes' Commission, an advisory panel of top athletes from around the world.
His proposed back-door entry to the Seoul Games unleashed a stream of criticism when it became known Tuesday.
"What I object to is the rules being changed for one person," said Cram. "I live in a part of the world where people have to work for what they get, and it's not appreciated when people have things handed to them on a plate."
"I think it's wrong," said Alan Wells, the 1980 100-meter Olympic champion. "I feel that Seb should abide by the rules and die by the rules."