September 9 - Defending Commonwealth Games 400 metres champion John Steffensen (pictured) will not defend his title in New Delhi next month after pulling out of Australia's team following a long-running feud with the sport's national governing body there.

Among Steffensen's many gripes with Athletics Australia (AA) is that he did not gain automatic selection for Delhi, an honour afforded to those who recorded top-eight finishes at last year's World Championships such as Steve Hooker, Dani Samuels and Sally Pearson.

The 27-year-old, who was also a member of the Australian 4x400m relay team that won gold medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, has been charged by AA with bringing the sport into disrepute for derogatory comments he made in Perth.

Steve Moneghetti, Australia's Chef de Mission for Delhi, which begins on October 3, admitted that Steffensen would be missed but doubted whether he would have been in shape to put up a good performance as he had not raced since April because of a back injury.

He said: ''We thought he might go over to Delhi and withdraw later, so it's slightly better it happening now than when he gets over there."

Moneghetti, the 1994 Commonwealth Games marathon champion, who is also a national AA selector believes that Steffensen's withdrawal is a hollow gesture.

He said: "'Him protesting by not going to the Commonwealth Games - is this going to change the system?

"No chance.''