Council in Session in Athens (IAAF) © Copyright
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IAAF Council Athens - Day 1 - Latest Update

AthensThe IAAF Council Meeting opened on Saturday in the Greek capital, just under five months before the start of the Athletics programme of the XXVIII Olympiade.

President Lamine Diack personally thanked the Greek Council Member Minos Kyriakou, who had invited his colleagues to Athens for the meeting. Diack highlighted the good experiences that the IAAF have had with the Greek athletic authorities – and recalled two outstanding competitions from the past, the first ever World Junior Championships in 1986, and the IAAF World Championships in 1997. The President expressed his confidence in the upcoming Olympic Games.

President Diack explained that there were not only 2 days of Council discussions, but a 2-day International Television Seminar on Monday, 29 March and Tuesday 30 March, involving almost 200 people from 60 countries, and that this represented a vital forum to ensure even better co-operation between broadcasters and IAAF, with the joint aim of creating the best conditions to promote the sport.

The Council Meeting proper started with the approval of the Minutes of the previous Council in Berlin on 22/23 November.

In his opening report, President Lamine Diack summarised efforts to have a pragmatic approach to future development of the sport. He stressed the importance of having a more efficient management structure to push forward a full implementation of the World Athletics Plan, which was approved by the Congress in Paris. With the support of the Area associations and Member Federations, the aim is to render athletics a more universal sport, particularly by helping to create more new 1-day competitions around the world. The President also said there were great hopes for the general development of the sport and also for educational initiatives, to combat the threat of doping, which are being devised by the new IAAF Medical and Anti-doping Commission.

With regard to the World Plan, President Diack explained that it was now time to concentrate on the implementation. A number of priority issues have been identified and five Working Groups, led by Dapeng Lou, Helmut Digel, Hansjörg Wirz, Amadeo Francis and Adrian Metcalfe, will now start co-ordinating future work on this important project.

Report from IAAF General Secretary

Istvan Gyulai outlined the activities of the various IAAF departments since the last Council and highlighted the fact that 14 World Records have been set since the last Council meeting in Berlin.

Regarding the IAAF High Performance Training Centres, it was announced that a new centre would be opened in early April in Brazil. It was announced that an IAAF Coaches’ Academy, which aims to provide educational opportunities beyond those currently available in the IAAF Coaches’ Education and Certification system, will shortly be operational. The first IAAF Academy course will be organized in July 2004 in co-operation with the University of Loughborough in England.

Council agreed that Super Grand Prix, Grand Prix and Grand Prix II meetings must have the appropriate IAAF certification in order to receive the IAAF grant in 2004.

It was agreed that Council would recognize the results of elections held on 14 February 2004 for a new athletics federation in Macedonia.

Regarding Sierra Leone, Council decided that a new body set up called Sierra Leone Athletics would not be recognized, but that the Africa Area Representative Leonard Chuene, assisted by Cheikh Thiare, would investigate the situation and, if need be, supervise new elections. In the meantime, the Sierra Leone AAA would be recognized, and the participation of Sierra Leone athletes in competitions will remain unaffected.

It was also agreed that the Vanuatu Athletic Federation be provisionally suspended by the IAAF, pending an enquiry led by the Oceania Area Representative William Bailey. Despite this, the participation of Vanuatu athletes will not be affected.

Council noted the following Transfers of Allegiance, since the last Council Meeting

Name    From/to Date
Attila Farkas   ISR/HUN with immediate effect
Yamile Aldama  CUB/SUD with immediate effect
Yared Shegumo  ETH/POL Retroactively since 27/8/2003
Todd Matthews  USA/SUD Retroactively since 18/9/2003
Nathalie Harvey  AUS/GBR with immediate effect
Jolene Elizabeth Byrne USA/IRL with immediate effect

It was noted however, that Ms Byrne had competed at the European Cross Country Championships on 14 December 2003, when she was not yet an Irish citizen. For this reason, the European Athletics Association has been requested to strike this mark from the records and a letter of warning will be sent to the Irish Federation.

Council also discussed the cases of two former Kenyan athletes, who have changed allegiance to Bahrain and are now known as Abel Yagoot Jowhar Salem (Abel Cheuiyot) and Mucheru Salem Jawhar Salem (Leonard Mucheru). Mucheru last competed for Kenya on 16 March 2003 and although not eligible for Bahrain until 16 March 2006, competed for them on 7 February 2004 at the Asian Indoor Champs.

Abel competed for Kenya at the World Cross on 24 March 2002 and is not eligible to represent Bahrain until 24 March 2005. However, he allegedly competed on 8 September 2003 at the Arab Championships. Council agreed that both athletes had competed for their new country before they were eligible to do so, the relevant results would be annulled and that a letter of warning would be sent to Bahrain.

Other Decisions

Applications for early reinstatement by the athletes Brahim Boulami (MAR) and Roman Zubek (CZE) were postponed to the next Council Meeting.

Council approved the date of the next edition of the World Indoor Championships in Moscow, Russia as 10/12 March 2006.

Council studied and approved a proposed timetable for the Helsinki 2005 World Championships.

Afternoon Session

Council heard a number of reports in the afternoon session:

Treasurer’s Report

Jean Poczobut (FRA) presented the accounts of 2003 for information, although the final audited version will not be available until the next Council. The general situation is satisfactory, with income slightly higher than expected and expenditure slightly lower.

Technical Committee

Council heard the report from the Technical Committee chairman Jorge Salcedo and agreed that there was a need for new and existing technology to standardise measuring devices in athletics and false start detection systems. It was also agreed to engage researchers to assist in producing a Calibration handbook with specifications for timing, electronic distance measurement and false start detection equipment.

It was agreed that Member Federations and manufacturers should be advised on how to comply with the new Rule 192 that came into effect on 1 January 2004. Based on experiences in recent seasons, it was also agreed that alternative designs for hammer cages could be accepted, and that all cages inspected before certification in-situ.

Cross Country and Road Running Committee

Council considered a report presented by Otto Klappert which included a proposal to change the format of the World Cross Country Championships, which would continue as an annual competition, but would be reduced, ideally, to a single day format with the short races dropped from the programme, as of 2007, since the next two editions have already been awarded to organizers as a two day package:

The new format (pending discussions with Athletes’ Commission and Women’s Committee) will be:

Senior Men  12km (9 runners per team, 6 to score)
Senior Women 8 or 10 or 12km (9 or 6 runners per team, 6 or 4 to score)
Junior Men  8km (6 runners per team, 4 to score)
Junior Women  6km (6 runners per team, 4 to score)
The future of the World Half Marathon Championships was also discussed, and a number of possibilities were considered, including a new IAAF World Road Running Championships to be held over two days, possibly every second year, and possibly including 10k or other distances as well as Half Marathon. Another possibility would be to link the competition with existing mass participation races in an effort to increase public acceptance and media coverage. It was agreed that the IAAF’s Marketing experts would study possibilities in the coming months in an effort to develop a new solution following the 2005 edition which had already been awarded to Edmonton under the old format.

Women’s Committee

Ilse Bechthold presented Council with the report of the Women’s Committee. Amongst the recommendations were that the IAAF should make provisions to ensure that at least 25% of women participate in all organized Courses, Seminars, Workshops etc. It was also proposed that, in Areas and Federations which lack women in key positions, basic courses be staged for women only. All IAAF curriculum should also include women’s specific health, psychological and physiological aspects, especially in coaches’ education. It was also proposed that a small task force be created, consisting of Ilse Bechthold, Abby Hoffman, Nawal El Mouawakel and Alberto Juantorena, to ensure women’s issues were carefully considered in the implementation of the World Plan.

Masters’ Committee

This report was presented by Cesar Moreno-Bravo, who highlighted the success of the first ever WMA World Indoor Championships in Sindelfingen, Germany, on 15 March.

Council agreed that the starting age for Men Master athletes could be changed to 35 instead of 40 years of age at the next Congress. This is a way of encouraging more older athletes to stay in the sport and to reinforce the idea that athletics can be a “sport for life”. Women Master athletes were already accepted from the age of 35.

Competition Commission

The Commission report was presented by Dapeng Lou. As well as supporting the Cross Country and Road Running Committee’s proposals regarding the World Cross and Half Marathon competitions, the Commission argued that a number of format changes should be considered to the IAAF World Youth Championships including:

• Revising the relevant competition regulations to prevent young athletes being pushed too hard,
• Awarding the competition, whenever possible, to less developed countries where it can have a greater impact,

• Increasing the official number of competition days to five.

It was agreed that the World Athlete of the Year should not be simply based on the athlete’s position in the IAAF World Rankings (Overall) as in 2003, but should now based on a vote by experts drawn from all sections of the Athletics Family. An initial vote can draw up nominations covering all athletics events (ie: sprints, middle/long distance, throws, jumps, road, combined events, plus “wildcards”, and from this list of nominees, another vote will elect the winners.