Two of UK Athletics' most senior officials have left the organisation ©Getty Images

UK Athletics chief executive Joanna Coates and performance director Sara Symington have both resigned from their roles.

Symington is leaving to head up British Cycling's Olympic and Paralympic programme.

Coates has been in the role for fewer than 20 months, while Symington was only appointed UK Athletics performance director in August 2020.

Development director Mark Munro will serve as interim chief executive for six months while the UK Athletics Board begins the recruitment process for the new, full-time chief executive and performance director.

Confirmation of Coates and Symington's departures comes just days after UK Athletics came under criticism for the latest allocation of funding under the British Athletics Olympic World Class Programme.

British athletes have today also complained over discovering about the departures of Coates and Symington on social media. 

It leaves the national governing body once more in crisis, after a turbulent few years pre-dating Coates' arrival.

Coates took over as chief executive after Zara Hyde Peters lost the job before even starting, following claims her husband was allowed to continue coaching at Coventry Godiva Harriers - where Hyde Peters was vice-chair - despite being banned from teaching for having inappropriate relations with a 15-year-old. 

Sara Symington is the new head of British Cycling's Olympic and Paralympic programme ©Getty Images
Sara Symington is the new head of British Cycling's Olympic and Paralympic programme ©Getty Images

In May 2020 - two months after Coates took up the position - UK Athletics was told to reform its Board and "transform the way it approaches difficult ethical decisions", after an independent review found a "general culture of mistrust" and claimed the state of athletics "couldn't get any worse".

Neil Black, the performance director before Symington, left UK Athletics in October 2019, shortly after disgraced American coach Alberto Salazar was given a four-year ban for anti-doping offences.

Black was criticised for not distancing himself from Salazar, who coached four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah, while an independent report was again critical of how UK Athletics handled the Salazar situation.

Coates and Symington worked together at England Netball, and the appointment of Symington was not not met with universal approval within athletics circles.

UK Athletics losing one of its two Diamond League legs, coronavirus-related job losses, long-serving staff members such as major events director Cherry Alexander and relays coach Stephen Maguire quitting, and a gold medal-free showing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were among the defining moments of Coates' tenure.

Britain won three silver and three bronze medals in athletics at the Olympics, but one of those medals - men's 4x100 metres relay silver - is set to be stripped over CJ Ujah testing positive for two prohibited substances.

Ian Beattie was appointed UK Athletics' new chair last month.

"I'd like to thank Jo and Sara for their work during their time at UK Athletics and I wish them both all the best for the future," Beattie said.

Symington is a former cyclist and represented Britain at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics.

"This is an incredible opportunity to play a pivotal role within cycling - the nation’s most successful Olympic and Paralympic sport," Symington said.

"My experience as a leader within elite sport combined with my time spent as a rider for Great Britain means I have developed the skills to lead the team to continue to deliver medals and more. 

"I aim to do this through building on the culture of continuous improvement and investing smartly to support priority areas and athletes."