Athletics: Coe ushers in IAAF's era of transparency in governance

IAAF president Sebastian Coe's package of reforms includes a push for gender balance and handing athletes a greater voice.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe's package of reforms includes a push for gender balance and handing athletes a greater voice.PHOTO: EPA

MONACO • Sebastian Coe has taken the first successful step towards dragging an IAAF riddled with corruption into a brave new world of transparency.

Since taking charge of the International Association of Athletics Federations in August last year, he has often found himself in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

He inherited a world governing body sick to its core, his predecessor Lamine Diack - under whom he served as vice-president for eight years - just one of several senior former IAAF officials under police investigation for corruption involving bribes to keep quiet about positive Russian doping tests.

But Coe has not shirked from the challenge, drafting a revolutionary set of reforms that were adopted at Saturday's Special Congress.

While some federation members bristled at the open nature of the vote, with results published for all to see, Coe was defiant.

"We've moved into the world of transparency," was the Briton's blunt reply when quizzed on why he had not opted to make the ballot a secret one.

"Transparency sits at the heart of everything we've been talking about. That is a key word and everyone knows what it means."

The vote saw 182 member federations plump for the reforms, with 10 against and five invalid votes. Sixteen federations were not present.

Coe's reforms, with a nod to Diack's abuse of the top position, include stripping himself of some powers, with the president and IAAF council not allowed to serve more than 12 years and with more checks put in place.

Coe's package of reforms also includes a push for gender balance, handing athletes a greater voice and crucially establishing an independent integrity unit that would manage all anti-doping matters and be responsible for greater intelligence gathering.

All in all, it is a massive step forward for the crisis-riddled body behind the Olympics' No. 1 sport.

"This is a good and historic day for our sport," Coe admitted. "I'm incredibly proud of the decision that was taken. We now have structures, frameworks and foundations that will create a safety net. That safety net also has to be responsive to cultural shifts and cultural changes.

"There is now a whole heap more work to do to make sure that we drive on to a much better future."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2016, with the headline 'Coe ushers in IAAF's era of transparency in governance'. Print Edition | Subscribe