TOP athletes have been left unable to train in Kirklees after essential equipment was removed.
Track bosses have packed away the throwing nets vital for discus and hammer ... claiming they can't afford to repair damage to the ground by heavy objects.
Their action demonstrates the parlous state of British athletics as the nation gears up for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Angry coach Andrew Ibbitson said: "It's not helping anyone get interested in sport."
The nets have been taken down at Princess Mary playing fields, near Spenborough Baths in Liversedge.
Kirklees Active Leisure, which runs the complex, says they will be put back when the weather is better in March.
But protesting athletes say they will lose vital winter training months.
They are being forced to travel to Wakefield to keep in trim.
Mr Ibbitson said he was totally unhappy with the situation.
Throwers he coaches include his wife Jennifer, a hammer, decathelete Graham Bickerdyke, who is ranked 25th in the country, and hammer thrower Sarah Holt, who recently represented Great Britain at a junior athletics championship in Beijing.
Mr Ibbitson said: "Last year, they took the nets down and we argued but lost.
"This year, they can't give proper reason for taking them down so we are making a stand.
"Kirklees Active Leisure is always pushing for people to get into sport, then they take the facilities away.
"We are having to spend money at Wakefield and not in Kirklees."
Mr Ibbitson said he had been told the nets had to come down so they could dry out.
He said Kirklees Active Leisure claimed this was done on the advice of UK Athletics.
But Mr Ibbitson approached the body's facilities officer, Bill Adcock, who said this was not the case.
He told Mr Ibbitson: "There is not a directive or recommendation from UK Athletics that the netting on throwing cages should be taken down through the winter months.
"Where the provision for throwing from a cage is provided facility, providers should be encouraged to enable it to be used throughout the year for both training and competition unless the prevailing weather conditions are such that an unsafe situation would arise."
Martin Priestley, operations manager for Kirklees Active Leisure, said the nets were taken down because shot, hammer and discus throwing damaged playing fields during winter months.
He added: "The funding that is received from Kirklees Council for the maintenance and equipment does not cover the cost of repairing this damage.
"It is important that the upkeep of the hammer cages is maintained and therefore it makes sense to preserve them during the winter months."