IAAF Special Congress passes president Coe’s reforms

Monaco, Dec 4 (IANS) A Special Congress of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has overwhelmingly adopted a reform package drawn up by President Sebastian Coe.

Some 197 of 213 member-federations were present for the vote, which resulted in 182 for, 10 against and five invalid for Coe’s reform expected to change the structure of the athletics’ world governing body, reports Xinhua.

“This is a very important moment in the history of our sport,” said Coe on Saturday. He took office in 2015 after the selection held during the World Championships in Beijing.

Coe’s proposals, which dedicate to move the sport forward from its tainted past, emphasise on establishing new independent anti-doping, integrity and disciplinary functions along with a greater voice for athletes in the organisation and more gender balance.

The reforms also give more governance power to the IAAF Executive Board, in reaction to the abuse of the presidency by disgraced former President Lamine Diack, who is currently under investigation by French authorities on corruption and money-laundering charges.

As outlined in the reform document, named “Time For Change”, the Special Congress voted two constitutions. The 2017 Constitution enables integrity related reforms to be implemented next year, while the 2019 Constitution brings in the remainder of the reforms.

“We’re putting in place a framework that should have been there years ago,” said Coe, telling members that they should all feel ‘violated’ given the amount of money that had been siphoned off instead of having been ‘used for the development of athletics’, ” Coe said.

“I am incredibly proud of the decision that was taken, both the endorsement for the work of the Council by the Congress and let me immediately place on record my thanks to the reform team,” he added at a post-meeting press conference on Saturday.

“We now have structures, we now have frameworks and foundations that will create a safety net. That safety net has also to be responsive to cultural shifts and cultural changes. But it is a good day and there is now a whole heap more work to do to make sure that we drive on into a far better future,” he added.

Since Coe took over the presidency, the IAAF has been mired in the fall-out from Diack’s corruption scandal and Russia’s doping issues, which led the ruling body to ban the Russian Athletics Federation and its athletes from participating in this year’s Rio Olympics.

The detailed results were unexpectedly displayed on a big screen at the end of the vote. It showed the 10 against votes came from Benin, Bahrain, Chad, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, and the five invalid were from Jamaica, Oman, Senegal, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Jamaica’s sprint superstar Usain Bolt, however, has thrawn his weight behind Coe, saying on Friday that, “Seb Coe is trying to make track and field more transparent to everyone so they can see what shape it is in and to make sure there is not one person fully in control.”

“That’s a bold move from him as IAAF president,” said the 30-year-old while receiving a record sixth IAAF Athlete of the Year Award at Friday evening’s year-ending gala here.

“That’s also helped the sport to make people more confident and to trust the sport more,” added Bolt, winner of nine Olympic gold medals who’s retiring after the 2017 season.

–IANS

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