IAAF set to discuss scrapping formal bidding for World Championships

By Nick Butler                                                                               Sunday, 5 February 2017 

International Association ofAthletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe is expected to propose a move away from formal bidding procedures for major events during a Council meeting here tomorrow.

SebastianCoe

Under possible plans, the IAAF could abolish any sort of bidding system for major events, including their flagship World Championships, and instead prioritise informal consultations with cities before announcing a chosen host.

The Briton first raised these plans to insidethegames at November's Association of National Olympic Committees General Asembly in Doha before vowing to raise them at the next Council meeting.

"The current process [for selecting host cities] is sub-optimal," Coe said.

"We have five major opportunities in a decade to showcase athletics.

"We therefore need to be in places that can help us grow our sport.

"We need to create the right partnerships from the outset.

"Ones where you are working together to ensure a Championships which is great for sport but is also great for the city.

"I want to talk with Council at our next meeting about the best process by which to deliver this."

Exactly how this proposal will be put forward remains unclear, and it is possible that it could be rejected completely by the ruling body.

But the change is considered a means by which to tailor events more around the desires of a specific city and to ensure the most mutually compatible host.

This is thought to be particularly important today due to the growing difficulty in many Western countries to justify bidding for major events.

Discussions could take place between representatives from both sides, for instance, and then the IAAF could rule a city may be most suited to a particular event, such as the IAAF World Indoor Championships or an age group event.

Others may be more suitable to a different style of event such as the Nitro Athletics Series currently taking place in Melbourne.

Every outdoor edition of the IAAF World Championships has already been awarded up to 2021, meaning the 2023 edition is the earliest which could benefit from these changes.

But other earlier events such as the 2020 and 2022 IAAF World Indoor Championships could also potentially be affected.

The move is not without a precedent, with Osaka the only candidate to be awarded the 2007 World Championships after Budapest and Berlin each withdrew before the October 2002 deadline.

Eugene in the United States was then controversially awarded the 2021 event in 2015 without a bidding process.

Swedish officials were particularly critical due to their hopes to file a bid from Gothenburg.

It came after Eugene had finished second behind Qatari capital Doha in a controversial race for the 2019 edition which has been clouded by allegations over malpractice during the bidding process.

It is thought, however, that Coe's plan is not a specific response to these problems and more a long-term idea partly based on experience he gleaned as chair of the Bidding and Organising Committee for London 2012.

The plan will inevitably receive criticism for a possible loss of transparency as well as the apparent ease by which it could be subject to backroom deals.

Finding a means to ensure transparency and openness can be expected to be one area of discussion for the Council tomorrow.

It is hoped that similar criticism to that seen when Eugene was awarded the event would be avoided by making the process clearer from the outset.

This is expected to be one major issue on the agenda for tomorrow's meeting.

Russian doping is set to be another.

IAAF Taskforce head Rune Anderson will present following a visit to the country last month before a vote will take place over whether to extend the suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation imposed in 2015 after the World Anti-Doping Agency-commissioned Pound Report published evidence of state sponsored doping in the country.

insidethegames understands that some tentative improvement is thought to have taken place in recent months.

However, it seems unlikely any decision will be made to lift the suspension tomorrow.

This is particularly because the key criteria of there being a fully functioning anti-doping agency operating in Russia has not yet been fulfilled.

Russian athletes are unable to compete internationally under their own flag until this decision is made.

They must instead prove that they have been operating in an "effective testing system" outside the country.

Only two athletes - long jumper Darya Klishina and 800 metres runner turned whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova - have so far been cleared to do this, although it appears possible more could soon follow due to an increased number of Russians now operating under the IAAF's Registered Testing Pool.

Implementation of reforms, such as the IAAF Integrity Unit, passed at December's Special Congress here will also be discussed at the Council meeting.

 

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