Athletics’ world governing body says the package of reforms will enable the IAAF to become “a robust modern organisation”

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has included 15 “key proposals” in a document entitled “Reform of the IAAF – A New Era” following a two-day IAAF Governance Structure Reform Forum meeting in Amsterdam.

Reduced personal powers for the IAAF president, confirmation of Congress as the highest authority of the sport, a reduction in the number of vice-presidents from four to two and the introduction of a new Integrity Code of Conduct are among the proposed governance reforms.

The two-day forum was attended by more than 60 delegates, including federation presidents, administrators and athletes representing the six continental areas of the IAAF. The proposals were discussed with the aim of creating what the IAAF described as “an effective organisation with the checks and balances and transparent structures required”.

Led by sports lawyer Maria Clarke, chair of the IAAF Governance Structure Reform Working Group, the forum is said to mark the start of a six-month consultation process which, following approval by the IAAF Council, will see the final proposals being sent to the IAAF membership for their approval at a Special Congress in early December 2016. If approved, the governance reforms would be phased in over a period of three years.

“The IAAF has taken time over the past two days to look closely at the lessons it can draw from the past,” read an IAAF statement in part. “The package of reforms underway will enable the IAAF to become a robust modern organisation with the necessary safeguards and controls and the right education to protect the organisation and ensure it is not exposed to unnecessary risk in the future.”

Some of the changes proposed:

  • Congress would be confirmed as the highest authority of the sport and the IAAF to which Council, Executive Board and other organs of IAAF would report annually;
  • A new IAAF Convention would be established and held on the occasion of each Congress to encourage wide participation in the future of the sport;
  • The President would continue to act as the face of the sport but would have reduced personal powers and only act under delegated authority from Congress, Council and Executive Board;
  • The number of Vice Presidents would be reduced from four to two, with one of each gender and elected by Council;
  • The position of Treasurer would cease to exist and the finance function would be managed by professional staff and a finance subcommittee of the Executive Board;
  • There would be maximum terms of office of three terms of four years for President, Council and Executive Board Members;
  • A new Integrity Code of Conduct incorporating the existing Code of Ethics would be introduced incorporating all other IAAF rules of conduct into one Code.

The full 14-page document can be found here.

IAAF president Seb Coe (pictured above) commented: “Our reform proposals show how seriously we want to grip the issues facing our sport and design a strong diverse and modern organisation which reflects the global reach of athletics.

“We are not afraid to make tough decisions, we owe it to the athletes. Our discussion over the last two days have been honest and robust.”

In a preface to the reform proposal document, Coe said in part: “The reforms contained in this Governance Structure proposal are at the heart of our ambition to be the best.

“They address not just the well-publicised and uncomfortable challenges we have had to confront in the last year but the need in future to be a sport that is responsible, responsive, accessible and transparent.”