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IAAF proposes substantial reforms to address “uncomfortable challenges”

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The International Association of athletics Federation (IAAF) has proposed a number of substantial reforms – including transferring power away from the president – as it attempts to rebuild its reputation following a bruising 12 months.

Reform of the IAAF – A New Era has been unveiled by the governing body, and details 15 key reforms including reducing the powers of the president – a position currently occupied by Sebastian Coe – and moving authority to the IAAF Congress, IAAF Council and executive board.

A maximum term of office of three terms of four years has been proposed for presidents, council and executive board members, while the position of treasurer will “cease to exist”.

To make the operation more transparent, the IAAF has suggested the implementation of an Integrity Code of Conduct, an independent Athletics Integrity Unit and extensive external audits for finance and governance operations.

The composition of the executive board is likely to become more skills-based, with governance and business skills taken into account. Only two members of the board will be appointed, not elected, while more athlete and female “voices will be heard”.

“The reforms contained in the Governance Structure proposal are at the heart of our ambition to be the best,” said Coe in the report’s preface. “They address not just the well-publicised and uncomfortable challenges we have had to confront in the last year but the need in the future to be a sport that is responsible, responsive, accessible and transparent.”

Coe emphasised the importance of the proposals in the context of attracting young viewers and participants, as well as commercial sponsors, to the sport following a period of intense scrutiny and mistrust.

Last November the World-Anti-doping Agency (WADA) produced a landmark report which alleged state-sponsored doping in Russia, while Coe’s predecessor Lamine Diack has been accused of blackmailing athletes who had committed doping offences.

In January, WADA chair Dick Pound claimed that “corruption was embedded in the organisation”. Even Coe has been accused of wrongdoing, and had to strongly refute claims made in a BBC Panorama documentary last month that he was aware of corruption in the IAAF before it was made public.

During a keynote address at the Telegraph’s Business of Sport Conference in May, Coe conceded that athletics had “sorely tested the trust of many of our stakeholder groups”, but he was confident that the sport was “still intrinsically strong”.

“Our sport is not broken. In the last month I’ve been to a World Indoor Athletics Championships in Portland, and for the first time I actually saw people queue up for tickets for track and field. It was so heavily subscribed we allowed youngsters to sit on the track and watch the pole vault competition,” he said at the time.

The IAAF will now open a consultation on the proposals before a final document is produced in August. A decision will be made on the proposals in December 2016 during a Special Congress meeting. If given the green light, the majority of the blueprint will come into effect from January 2017, while proposals concerning revised Council and executive board powers will be applicable from 2019.

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The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has proposed a number of substantial reforms – including transferring power away from the president – as it attempts to rebuild its reputation following a bruising 12 months.
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