IAAF in fight to hold on to sponsors

 A plaque outside the IAAF (The International Association of Athletics Federations) headquarters in Monaco.
A plaque outside the IAAF (The International Association of Athletics Federations) headquarters in Monaco.PHOTO: EPA

MONACO • The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has acknowledged that it is in a battle to convince sponsors that it is confronting doping and corruption scandals amid reports it has already lost adidas as a backer.

The BBC said that the German sportswear giant is to end its multi-million dollar backing of track and field's governing body four years early because of the doping scandal that has tarnished the sport.

When contacted on Monday, an adidas spokesman neither confirmed nor denied the BBC report but stressed the company was "opposed to doping in any form".

"We are therefore in close contact with IAAF to learn more about the reform process," she added.

An IAAF spokesman said: "The IAAF is in close contact with all its sponsors and partners as we embark on our reform process."

Adidas' 11-year sponsorship deal was signed in 2008 and was due to run until 2019. At the time it was agreed, the deal was reported to be worth US$33 million (S$47.18 million).

But the BBC, citing anonymous sources, said the figure was worth about 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.

The IAAF's remaining sponsors are so far standing by the beleaguered organisation.

Camera giant Canon has said it would stick with its sponsorship, which runs out at the end of this year. Dentsu, the Japanese media giant which has the marketing and licensing rights to IAAF events, is not wavering in its support either.

An IAAF statement noted that Dentsu's executive officer Kiyoshi Nakamura said that "we have full confidence in the new leadership of the IAAF and the reform process being led by current IAAF president Sebastian Coe".

The IAAF's other official partners - Toyota, Seiko, TDK, TBS and Mondo - are yet to comment publicly.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report published in November detailed claims of "state-sponsored doping" within Russia. A second report released this month said "corruption was embedded" within the IAAF under former president Lamine Diack, who is now facing criminal charges in France.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'IAAF in fight to hold on to sponsors'. Print Edition | Subscribe