The IAAF’s jour­ney to trust

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - An­dré Lowe Spe­cial Projects Ed­i­tor – Sports

IT’S BEEN just over a year since IAAF pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Coe took charge of what had be­come the hottest seat in in­ter­na­tional sports ad­min­is­tra­tion.

With bul­lets still swirling from a mas­sive cor­rup­tion and dop­ing scan­dal, and very lit­tle con­fi­dence left in an or­gan­i­sa­tion re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the af­fairs of global track and field, Coe, who him­self landed un­der the mi­cro­scope, be­lieves they have al­ready taken key steps to­wards se­cur­ing a pos­i­tive fu­ture for the sport and is con­vinced that they have just the thing needed to re­move the veil of sus­pi­cion that has dogged ath­let­ics for years.

In an exclusive sit-down with The Gleaner, the IAAF pres­i­dent ad­mit­ted the dam­ag­ing ef­fects of the wide-net dop­ing and cor­rup­tion scan­dals but is cer­tain that the worst is be­hind them as he looks to guide the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and the sport, into a new age of trans­parency and trust.

The blue­print, he be­lieves, is high­lighted by a 15-point gov­er­nance-re­form pack­age, which is be­ing out­lined to the var­i­ous mem­ber fed­er­a­tions ahead of a De­cem­ber vote for im­ple­men­ta­tion.

The plan, among other things, speaks to a de­vo­lu­tion of pres­i­den­tial power; the im­ple­men­ta­tion of an in­de­pen­dent in­tegrity unit that will man­age dop­ing and non-dop­ing in­tegrity is­sues; cut­ting the num­ber of vice-pres­i­dents from four to two – one from each gen­der; a new fi­nan­cial struc­ture, in­clud­ing ex­ter­nal au­dits and trans­parency stan­dards; as well as struc­tural changes to the man­age­ment set-up.


“It has been a dif­fi­cult year. There have been a lot of chal­lenges, but we have ended the year stronger than we started it. Rio (Olympics) was, in terms of per­for­mance for track and field, top draw, in large part courtesy of Ja­maica, and I say that with mas­sive re­spect,” Coe said.

“We do end up stronger than we have started the sea­son de­spite the twin chal­lenge of main­tain­ing all the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that the IAAF has had; and peo­ple tend to for­get that even dur­ing the dif­fi­cult mo­ments, we still had to do World Championships,” Coe noted in ref­er­ence to the World In­door Championships in Port­land; the World Half Marathon Championships; the World Race Walk Cup, which, like the World Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onship, was re­moved from Rus­sia; and, of course, the work around the Olympic Games.

None­the­less, Coe be­lieves that de­spite the is­sues, there re­mains a strong ap­petite for track and field in the global space and be­lieves the charted course, or re­form, will go a long way in build­ing on this and push­ing track and field from per­haps its low­est po­si­tion to among the top four sports in the world.

“We have sorely tested, as a sport in some key ar­eas, the trust of the spec­ta­tors, the trust of clean athletes, the trust of the me­dia, and the trust of our spon­sors. There is ev­ery ev­i­dence that they are tak­ing com­fort in the fact that as a sport, we recog­nise that we need to change,” added Coe.

“The re­form is based on, for me, four prin­ci­ples. Firstly, re­turn­ing trust. Sec­ondly, it is to en­sure that we are a sport that is re­spon­si­ble, re­spon­sive, and ac­count­able; that ev­ery­body understands what their role and re­spon­si­bil­ity is in the sport. At the IAAF, we un­der­stand that we are there at the ser­vice of the mem­ber fed­er­a­tions. We have to give the mem­ber fed­er­a­tions the em­pow­er­ment to de­liver the sport that we need them to de­liver to help us glob­alise. Then we need to be en­er­getic in the way that we evolve and never for­get­ting all the time that we are ap­peal­ing to young peo­ple. And that is very im­por­tant be­cause there are many com­pet­ing ex­pe­ri­ences out there that we need to recog­nise,” Coe out­lined.

“Sport is our ac­tiv­ity, but our busi­ness is en­ter­tain­ment. Thank­fully, we have the big­gest entertainer in the world at the mo­ment in Usain Bolt, and that makes life a lit­tle eas­ier, and then fi­nally, it’s about trans­for­ma­tion.”


The pres­i­dent sin­gled out the de­liv­ery of the in­de­pen­dent in­tegrity unit and the pro­posed changes to anti-dop­ing man­age­ment as a vastly im­por­tant ele­ment to the pack­age.

This new sys­tem will not only see the or­gan­i­sa­tion dou­bling its test­ing pool of athletes from the top 10 ranked in each dis­ci­pline to the top 20, but will also cen­tralise the re­sult man­age­ment with mem­ber fed­er­a­tions no longer be­ing re­spon­si­ble for sanc­tion­ing.

“... Never again will we have a po­ten­tial con­flict, where a fed­er­a­tion can slow down a process or de­cide to get in­volved in a way that we wouldn’t want, and that is very im­por­tant to me. So there will be an in­de­pen­dent dis­ci­plinary tri­bunal,” Coe fur­ther ex­plained.

Coe yes­ter­day ar­rived in Santa Domingo, the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic for a meet­ing with NACAC of­fi­cials.


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