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Enshrined in the Objects of the IAAF Constitution is the strongest possible commitment to world-wide development of athletics. This, of course, is a huge and complex task. The challenge is to create the conditions under which as many athletes as possible can express their potential in competition and derive the maximum benefit from the sport in the country of each IAAF Member Federation.

The central principle of the IAAF's development philosophy is co-operation between the IAAF, its Member Federations and other partners. As each Member Federation is responsible for athletics within its country, it has a leading role in operating and developing the sport. The IAAF's contribution is to assist Member Federations in fulfilling this role as effectively as possible.


The IAAF development strategy focuses on eight areas of activity which contribute to and are indispensable for the growth and strength of sport in any country:

  • Athletics Culture. 
  • Member Federation Activities and Administration. 
  • Coaching. 
  • Officiating.

  • Athletes Services.
  • Competition Opportunities and Organisation. 
  • Facilities and Equipment. 
  • Scientific and Medical Support.


Under the direction of the IAAF Development Commission, the IAAF Member Services Department, working closely with athletics experts around the world, is responsible for the design, implementation and monitoring of a wide variety of activities to address the needs in the above mentioned areas. These include:

  • Educational measures. 
  • Technical publications. 
  • Consultancies. 
  • Financial assistance. 
  • Scientific research. 
  • The IAAF invests more than $12 million annually in the Development programme. In addition, the IAAF works closely with other agencies throughout the world involved in development activities.

Regional Development Centres

The strongest sign of the IAAF’s commitment to development is its network of Regional Development Centres (RDCs). The main role of the RDCs is to support the work of the Member Federations and providing a focal point for the programme of development actions in the areas they serve. The IAAF Member Services Department’s role is the macro-management of the programme, while the RDCs are responsible for its micro-management. The activities of the RDCs include:

  • Regular communication with the Member Federations of their region. 
  • Education for coaches and technical officials. 
  • Seminars and workshops for the other specialist personnel of Member Federations such as General Secretaries, competition organisers, sports medicine personnel, etc. 
  • Co-ordination of grass root level courses for coaches, technical officials, etc. in the countries of their region. 
  • Publication of regional technical bulletins and other materials. 
  • Research projects. 
  • International Training Camps for young athletes.

Presently the IAAF operates the following 9 RDCs:

  • RDC Beijing, China (serving East Asia). 
  • RDC Gold Coast, Australia (serving Oceania). 
  • RDC Cairo, Egypt (serving Arabic-speaking Africa and Asia). 
  • RDC Dakar, Senegal (serving French-speaking Africa). 
  • RDC Jakarta, Indonesia (serving South and south-east Asia). 
  • RDC Moscow, Russia (serving Europe and central Asian countries). 
  • RDC Nairobi, Kenya (serving English-speaking Africa). 
  • RDC San Juan, Puerto Rico (serving Central America and the Caribbean). 
  • RDC Santa Fe, Argentina (serving South America).


To carry out their work effectively coaches need proper education and training. The IAAF has established a world-wide Coaches Education and Certification System (CECS), featuring basic level courses taught in each country as well as advanced courses staged at the IAAF's RDCs.


Technical Officials are essential for the conduct of competitions. The IAAF has developed a Technical Officials Education and Certification System (TOECS), featuring basic levels courses taught in each country as well as more advanced courses taught at the IAAF RDCs.

The IAAF High Performance Training Centres

The IAAF High Performance Training Centres (HPTC) provide a centre of excellence for the training and development of international class athletes and coaches. The Centres are managed and supervised under IAAF control.

The first HPTC was opened by the IAAF in 1997. Since then, the IAAF has opened HPTC's in several Areas around the world: notably in Africa, Asia, South America, NACAC (North America, Central America and Caribbean) and Oceania.

Many athletes have benefited from time spent at these HPTC's and have improved their performances at world level as a result. Indeed, a number of HPTC-trained athletes have gone on to become medal winners at IAAF World Championships and Olympic Games.

This success has led to many IAAF Member Federations entrusting the advancement of their elite athletes to these training centres.

The IAAF Accredited Training Centres

The IAAF system for the Accreditation of Training Centres (ATC) has been developed in response to the growing demand for information about appropriate training centres.

The aim of the System is to assist the National Federations, Athletes and Coaches to make the right decisions regarding the suitablity of a centre to meet their specific needs and requirements.

Only training centres that meet and accept the standardised criteria proposed by the IAAF, which include high-quality facilities, support services and appropriate coaching, receive accreditation.

The classification of the centres is based upon technical criteria (including track & field facilities, accommodation, event speciality, coaches etc..).


The IAAF development activities date back to the mid-seventies when the Congress in Montreal approved the “Technical Aid Programme” proposed by
József Sir (Hungary) who later became the first director of the programme and established the Development Commission.

In 1987 the IAAF created the Development Department. The Department’s first action was to make a situation analysis in the six Areas and in 1988 the Development Commission approved the Development Programme proposed by them. 

Since 1987 with the opening of the first Regional Development Centre (RDC) in Nairobi a network of RDCs, covering all six IAAF Areas, has supported the work of the Member Federations by providing a focal point for the programme of development activities in their region. In accordance with the declaration of the late Primo Nebiolo that the nineties shall be the Decade of Development, these years saw a dynamic increase of development activities all over the world.

Since the implementation of the IAAF Development Programme in 1988, the IAAF, through its RDCs, has offered to the Member Federations a diverse programme of activities such as study courses, competition consultancies, seminars and courses for coaches, technical officials, competition organisers and other key federation personnel. More than 30,000 persons have benefited from these activities worldwide. 

The IAAF also provides information through a growing number of technical manuals and electronic material. New Studies in Athletics, the technical quarterly magazine on applied research, coaching, development and documentation was first published in 1986.

In close co-operation with Olympic Solidarity and other international partners, the IAAF started in 1997 to set up High Performance Training Centres to provide places of excellence for the training and development of international class athletes and coaches.

In order to make certified training facilities of approved standard and high level specialised coaching widely available for the members of the Athletics Family, the IAAF has also established a network of Accredited Training Centres worldwide.

In 2003 with the introduction of the IAAF Athletics’ World Plan a major step was made by pointing out the necessity to foster youth and making Athletics the number one sport in schools by establishing, in 2005, the School and Youth Commission that focused on this specific task. Finally, 2006 was the start of the implementation of the Kids’ Athletics programme worldwide.

An important step in the recognition of the coaches’ family was also made by establishing, in 2004, the Coaches’ Commission.