DOUG GILLON and KEVIN SCHOFIELD CALLS by Alex Salmond for Scotland to have its own Olympics team were last night dismissed by leading athletes and sports administrators.

The First Minister said a Scotland team would be "a good idea" and that the SNP-led Scottish Executive would back it.

But Scottish athlete Lee McConnell, said she was against the move, which she believes would lessen her chances of success. Ian Stewart, who won gold for Scotland at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, also poured scorn on Mr Salmond's remarks, as did Sir Craig Reedie, former British Olympic Association (BOA) chairman.

Ms McConnell, who won medals at the European and world championships as well as the Commonwealth Games, said: "I don't want a Scottish Olympic team, because I want to be part of the GB relay team, and Scotland aren't going to be as good as Britain.

"There's quite a few people who have got medals in previous Olympics, who would not have got them if it were just a Scottish team: like (yachtswoman) Shirley Robertson. She got a gold medal because she was part of a team.

"And the same goes for Britain. If they didn't have the Scots, they would not have done as well."

She added: "I wouldn't be happy without a GB team. I'm not going to get a medal if I run with a Scotland relay squad, and I don't think Britain can afford not to have me as well.

"It works both ways, because I'm one of the stronger runners, and one of the most experienced."

Ian Stewart said Mr Salmond clearly didn't know anything about the Olympics.

"These people don't have an idea. But I do think there should be a Scottish team in the European track and cross-country championships, especially cross-country."

Mr Salmond first raised the prospect of a Scottish Olympic team last October when he said that if the SNP won the election he would look at preparing a bid to the International Olympic Committee for Scotland to have its own team.

Yesterday, he said that while the new executive had so far been concentrating on education, health and the economy, he was still in favour of a Scottish Olympic team.

He also cited the success of the Scottish team at the last Commonwealth Games as proof that the nation's sports stars could go it alone.

He said: "We haven't discussed it yet as a cabinet or as a government. But it's certainly a good idea.

"A separate Scotland team at the Commonwealth Games swept all before them, not just in sports we're traditionally good at, but particularly in the swimming pool."

Although Scotland is recognised as a separate entity by bodies such as football's world governing body Fifa and the Commonwealth Games Federation, at Olympic level Great Britain have always competed as a united team.

Sir Craig, a former Scottish badminton international, remains a vice-president of the BOA. He said that unless Scotland became an independent nation, it would not have its own Olympic team.

"The International Olympic Committee charter says that to take part in an Olympic Games you must have a national Olympic committee. You only get a national Olympic committee when it's granted to you by the IOC.

"When Scotland is an independent nation, I am 99.99% sure the IOC will grant them an NOC, but not before then. Until then, no Scottish athlete is disadvantaged by the current situation."

A BOA spokesman said: "As long as Scotland remains part of the UK there is no possibility for Scotland to have its own team at the Olympic Games."