SCOTS sprint legend Allan Wells has condemned ministers for axing cash used to get youngsters fit through athletics.
Money seized from criminals has helped 20,000 Scots aged 16-25 boost their health by taking up track and field sports.
But the money given to Scottishathletics from the CashBack for Communities fund runs out this month.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and Wells last year launched Street Sprint, a project to get teenagers involved in athletics.
But Wells was furious to turn up at a Street Sprint event in Glasgow last week – clutching his Moscow Olympics 100m gold medal – only to find the funding had been pulled.
He said: “I just find that nonsensical. It is counterproductive. What Street Sprint was all about was attracting youngsters to the sport so we could get more people into the sport. I think it is unfair.”
Wells is particular angry that the money has run dry in the same year the Olympics take place in London and with the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.
And he believes athletics is a poor relation to football.
He said: “Football is getting so much money for facilities. How many football pitches are there in the country and it has always been football.
“Athletics? What was it over the last couple of years? A couple of hundred thousand? It’s not a lot of money and it doesn’t do it justice.”
He added: “How can kids feel wanted in the sport when this money is being taken away. Somebody has made a mistake. We need to give these kids more support.”
MacAskill last year described Street Sprint as “a great way to give young people purpose, focus and confidence”.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said officials would be happy to discuss the issue with Wells.
She added that Scottishathletics was getting an extra £100,000 from SportScotland next year, taking the total to £1m.