Adidas pulls plug on IAAF deal

The Adidas logo is pictured in a pop-up store in Berlin on Dec 2, 2014.
The Adidas logo is pictured in a pop-up store in Berlin on Dec 2, 2014.PHOTO: REUTERS

Biggest sponsor withdraws four years early in a decision that will strip millions from coffers

LONDON • In the latest in a series of setbacks for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), sportswear giant adidas is to end its 11-year sponsorship deal with track and field's world governing body almost four years early, reported the BBC.

The BBC said the German company, the biggest sponsor of the sport's governing body, decided against continuing with the contract as a direct result of the doping and corruption scandal that emerged last month and continues to haunt athletics.

The BBC also said adidas considers the accusations of corruption within the organisation a breach of its agreement with the IAAF.

At the time it was agreed, the contract was reported to be worth US$33 million (S$47.2 million).

But the BBC, citing anonymous sources, said the figure was much higher and was worth around US$8 million this year alone. On those figures, the projected lost revenue for the IAAF over the next four years will be US$30 million.

Adidas is one of the IAAF's "official partners" along with Canon, Toyota, Seiko, TDK, Tokyo Broadcasting System and Mondo.

Adidas' move will add to the pressure on IAAF president Sebastian Coe. The Briton succeeded Lamine Diack last August, having been one of the Senegalese official's vice-presidents for seven years.

Late last year, an independent commission for the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) revealed widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia.

Last week, the commission released a second report on its investigations that accused the IAAF of having "embedded corruption" at the very top of the organisation under Diack.

Diack and his son, Papa Massata, are both under investigation by French police over corruption allegations. Both have denied wrongdoing.

Adidas currently remains a sponsor of another scandal-hit organisation, Fifa. Its chief executive, Herbert Hainer, has hinted at the possibility of cutting links with football's world governing body.

Senior management at the company have also voiced their concerns at the football scandal, despite the company continuing as a commercial partner of Fifa.

Adidas has sponsored Fifa for more than 40 years and the current contract runs until 2030.

A number of other major sponsors, such as Coca-Cola and Visa, have also started to flex their combined financial muscle, having called on Fifa president Sepp Blatter to go and for reforms to take place.

Blatter and Uefa president Michel Platini have been sanctioned over a payment of two million Swiss francs (S$2.8 million) that Blatter authorised for Platini in 2011 for work done a decade earlier.

Fifa is facing the worst crisis in its history, as a total of 41 individuals and entities have been charged with corruption-related offences in the United States. Fifa also faces a parallel Swiss probe.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 26, 2016, with the headline 'Adidas pulls plug on IAAF deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe