A detailed review of the IAAF governance reforms

Published 01 June 2018 By: Sean Cottrell, Kevin Carpenter


On 1 July 2014, Michael Beloff QC, the Chair of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Independent Ethics Commission, launched an investigation into the mishandling of Russian athletes’ Athlete Biological Passports (ABP). He appointed an independent investigator, Sir Anthony Hooper,1 a former England and Wales Court of Appeal judge, to conduct the investigation. The investigation, report and decision of the Ethics Commission on 7 January 20162, along with the real-time media coverage, built an immense amount of pressure on the IAAF to review and reform its governance structures.

Running parallel with the investigation, Lord Sebastian Coe, a Vice President of the IAAF since 2007, was elected as President of the IAAF on the 19 August 2015.3 Lord Coe was elected on a mandate to reform the governance of the IAAF following athletics’ biggest scandal which exposed governance weaknesses in the structure of the IAAF, principal of which being the extent of the power vested in the role of President – which was allegedly exploited to an unethical extent by then President, Laime Diack4.5 Overall there were a lack of checks-and-balances which allowed multiple conflicts of interest and lacked a whistle-blower mechanism.6

Lord’s Coe’s mandate commenced after IAAF World Championships on the 30 August 2015.7 On the 5th July 2016, the IAAF Governance Structure Reform Forum, led by sports lawyer Maria Clarke, the chair of the IAAF Governance Structure Reform Working Group8, started a six-month consultation process which, resulted in several recommendations to amend the IAAF Constitution were approved by the IAAF Special Congress on the 3 December 2016.9


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Sean Cottrell

Sean Cottrell

Sean is the founder and CEO of LawInSport. Founded in 2010, LawInSport has become the "go to sports law website" for sports lawyers and sports executives across the world.

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Kevin Carpenter

Kevin Carpenter

Kevin is a advisor and member of the editorial board for LawInSport, having previously acted as editor. In his day-to-day work he has two roles: as the Principal for his own consultancy business Captivate Legal & Sports Solutions, and Special Counsel for Sports Integrity at leading global sports technology and data company Genius Sports.

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