Thu | Aug 17, 2017

IAAF votes for change - Bolt gives his approval

Published:Sunday | December 4, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe
President Sebastian Coe speaking at yesterday's special congress of the IAAF in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
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MONTE CARLO, Monaco:

A wide range of proposals aimed at changing the way track and field's world governing body, the IAAF, operates was overwhelmingly passed yesterday at a special congress with 95 per cent of the member federations voting in favour of a constitutional reform.

The move, which the sport's most recognisable name - Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt, described as 'bold' but necessary, were presented by IAAF president Sebastian Coe in a Time for Change document crafted to move the scandal-hit organisation away from its badly tainted reputation and recover trust and credibility.

Coe's plan included operational changes such as a limit on the presidential tenure, greater gender balance and influence to athletes, an independent anti-doping management system, increased commercial value and a wider distribution of power.

The constitutional changes will be delivered in two stages, January 1, 2017 and January 1, 2019.

One hundred and eighty-two members voted in favour of the proposals, with 10 voting in the other direction, in a development that Coe described as an important moment in the history of the sport.

Bolt, who was one day earlier announced for the sixth time as the Male Athlete of the Year after his triple gold-medal performance at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, gave the thumbs up to the package, which he believes will help to regain credibility in a sport that was last year rocked by doping and corruption scandals.

"I think this will also help the sport and people will feel more comfortable and also trust the sport. So I definitely feel the moves he is making are bold but strong," Bolt said ahead of the Congress.

"I notice that Seb Coe is trying to make track and field more transparent and ensure that no one person is fully in control, so for me, that's a big move, that's a bold move for him as the IAAF president," said Bolt.

 

MASSIVE CORRUPTION

 

The IAAF was last year embroiled in a massive corruption scandal which led to former president Lamine Diack and his son, Pappa Massata Diack, being investigated for money-laundering and other charges by French investigators.

Widespread doping and cover-up conspiracies were also uncovered, with an independent World Anti-Doping Agency pointing to an organisation that ignored widespread doping for financial gain.

"We must protect out sport. We must put in place the structures that will keep our sport and athletes safe on and off the field of play, in and out of the stadium. It is bad enough that any of this happened once, but it cannot happen a second time; not on our watch and not on anyone else's watch. We have to step up and ensure that the walls are never too high again and that checks and balances are in place and working," Coe said.

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), which has supported Coe from the onset, surprisingly did not register a vote.

The JAAA is represented here by newly returned president Dr Warren Blake and General Secretary Garth Gayle.

Senegal officials did not vote, as a mark of solidarity with Senegalese Diack.

The IAAF yesterday also announced a new partnership with Japanese sports-good manufacturers Asics, which has replaced Adidas as kit sponsors.

Adidas, which was in the latter stages of an 11-year contract with the IAAF, announced on Friday that it was cutting its deal short, noting that it would remain committed to the sport but pay more attention to individual athletes.

The IAAF deal will represent Asics' most prominent sponsorship in its history.