International Association of Athletics Federations

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World Athletics
International Association of Athletics Federations logo.svg
Formation 17 July 1912
Type Sports federation
Headquarters 6-8, quai Antoine-Ier, Monaco
215 member federations
Sebastian Coe

World Athletics is the international governing body for the sport of athletics. It was founded on 17 July 1912 as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) by representatives from 17 national athletics federations at the organization's first meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, with a first congress in Berlin in 1913. Since October 1993, 82 years after its creation, it has been headquartered in Monaco, with an official inauguration on 10 June 1994. Previously, from 1912 to 1946, it was originally in Stockholm, then, from 1946 to 1993, it was moved to London.

Beginning in 1982, the IAAF passed several amendments to its rules to allow athletes to receive compensation for participating in international competitions. However, the organization retained the word amateur in its name until its 2001 congress, at which it changed its name to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). In June 2019 the IAAF approved a rebranding of the organization to World Athletics, beginning after the 2019 World Championships in Doha.[1]

The IAAF and then World Athletics's president is Sebastian Coe of the United Kingdom. He was elected at the 2015 congress, before the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in Beijing, China.[2] and re-elected in Doha, Qatar, 4 years later, just before the 2019 World Athletics Championships, with unanimous vote.


The process to found the IAAF was started at a meeting in Stockholm, Sweden on 17 July 1912 soon after the completion of the 1912 Summer Olympics in that city. Here 27 representatives from 17 national federations agreed to meet at a congress in Germany the following year, overseen by Sigfrid Edström who was to become the fledgling organisation's first president. The congress that started on 20 August 1913 in Berlin is when the foundation of the IAAF was formally completed.[3][4][5]

Doping controversy[edit]

In 2015, a whistleblower leaked IAAF's blood test records from major competitions. The records revealed that, between 2001 and 2012, athletes with suspicious drug test results won a third of the medals in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships—a total of 146 medals including 55 golds—but the World Athletics caught none of them.[6] After reviewing the results, Robin Parisotto, a scientist and leading "anti-doping" expert, said, "Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values. So many athletes appear to have doped with impunity, and it is damning that the IAAF appears to have idly sat by and let this happen."[6] Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said his organisation was "very disturbed by these new allegations ... which will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide", and that its "independent commission will investigate the claims".[6]

Around the same time, the University of Tübingen in Germany claimed that the IAAF suppressed publication of a 2011 report in which "[h]undreds of athletes", as many as a third of the world's top athletes, "admitted violating anti-doping rules".[7]

On 1 November 2015, former IAAF president Lamine Diack was arrested in France and is under investigation on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.[8][9] Diack allegedly accepted "$1.2 million from the Russian athletics federation to cover up the positive doping tests of at least six Russian athletes in 2011."[8]

In November 2015, WADA published its report, which found "systemic failures" in the World Athletics had prevented an "effective" anti-doping programme and concluded that Russia should be banned from competing in international competitions because of its athletes' test results.[10] The report continued that "the World Athletics allowed the conduct to occur and must accept its responsibility" and that "corruption was embedded" in the organization.[11]

In January 2016, as a result of the doping scandal and WADA's report, the World Athletics's biggest sponsor, Adidas, announced that it was ending its sponsorship deal with the World Athletics four years early. The BBC reported that as a result the IAAF would lose $33 million (£23 million) worth of revenue. The 11-year sponsorship deal with Adidas was due to run until 2019.[12] World-record holding sprinter Michael Johnson described the scandal as more serious than that faced by FIFA.[11] In February 2016, Nestlé announced that it was ending its World Athletics sponsorship.[13]

In June 2016, following a meeting of the IAAF's ruling council, the IAAF upheld its ban on Russia's track and field team from entering the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.[14] In February 2017, All-Russia Athletic Federation disqualified by decision of the IAAF Council for 8 years for the creation of a doping system.

The IAAF has since resisted demands that Russia be re-instated, on the basis that the country repeatedly failed to satisfy all the agreed criteria. The decision was supported by Sean Ingle of The Guardian who wrote in a column that the World Athletics should maintain their ban on Russia through the 2016 Olympics in Rio.[15] That meant Russian athletes could compete at all major events in the following years, including the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London[16] and the 2018 European Championships in Berlin only as neutral athletes. In September 2018, the World Athletics faced a legal challenge by Russia to overturn the suspension after the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, but Hugo Lowell of the i newspaper reported the country's status would not change.[17] The legal case was later dropped.


Since the establishment of the IAAF, it has had six presidents:

Name Country Presidency
Sigfrid Edström  Sweden 1912–1946
Lord Burghley (later Lord Exeter)  United Kingdom 1946–1976
Adriaan Paulen  Netherlands 1976–1981
Primo Nebiolo  Italy 1981–1999
Lamine Diack  Senegal 1999–2015
Sebastian Coe  United Kingdom 2015–

Current World Athletics council (2019)[edit]


Council members[edit]

Area associations[edit]

Map of world with six area associations

The World Athletics has a total of 215 member federations divided into 6 area associations.[19][20]

     AAA – Asian Athletics Association in Asia
     CAA – Confederation of African Athletics in Africa
     CONSUDATLE – Confederación Sudamericana de Atletismo in South America
     EAA – European Athletic Association in Europe
     NACAC – North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association in North America
     OAA – Oceania Athletics Association in Oceania

Age categories[edit]

  • Senior (all the athletes over 20 years old) (age-group competition over age 35 has become the domain of World Masters Athletics)
  • Junior (athletes aged 18 or 19 years on 31 December of the year of the competition)[21]
  • Youth (athletes aged 16 or 17 years on 31 December of the year of the competition)[21]


Included in its charge are the standardization of timekeeping methods and world records. The World Athletics also organizes many major athletics competitions worldwide, including:

World Athletics Series[edit]

The World Athletics Championships is the foremost athletics competition held by the IAAF.
Competition Frequency Established
World Athletics Championships Every two years 1983
World Athletics Indoor Championships Every two years 1985
World Athletics Cross Country Championships Every two years 1973
World Athletics Half Marathon Championships Every two years 1992
World Athletics U20 Championships†† Every two years 1986
World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships††† Every two years 1961
World Athletics Continental Cup†††† Every four years 1977
World Athletics Relays Every two years 2014
World Athletics Trail and Mountain Running Championships Every two years 2021[22]
† = Formerly IAAF World Championships in Athletics
†† = Formerly IAAF World Junior Championships
††† = Formerly IAAF World Race Walking Cup
†††† = Formerly IAAF World Cup

One-day events[edit]

Competition Established
IAAF Diamond League 2010
IAAF World Challenge 2010
IAAF World Indoor Tour 2016
IAAF Road Race Label Events 2008
IAAF Cross Country Permit Meetings 1999
IAAF Combined Events Challenge 1998
IAAF Race Walking Challenge 2003
IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge 2010


Competition Last held
IAAF World U18 Championships in Athletics 2017
IAAF Indoor Permit Meetings 2015
IAAF World Marathon Cup 2011
IAAF World Athletics Tour 2009
IAAF Golden League 2009
IAAF Super Grand Prix 2009
IAAF Grand Prix 2009
IAAF World Athletics Final 2009
IAAF World Road Running Championships 2007
IAAF World Outdoor Meetings 2006
IAAF Grand Prix Final 2002
IAAF World Cross Challenge 2000
IAAF World Road Relay Championships 1998
IAAF World Women's Road Race Championships 1991
IAAF Golden Events 1982

World Athletics partner organisations[edit]

As of 1 November 2015:[23]

Athletes' Commission[edit]

In order to give active athletes a voice in the governance of the sport, the IAAF created the Athletes' Commission. Athletes are elected to the commission by other athletes, typically held at the IAAF Congress attached to the World Athletics Championships. The commission chairperson and one other athlete of the opposite sex are giving voting rights on the IAAF Council. The last election was held in October 2019 at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.[25]

Newly elected members
Existing members

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Associated Press (9 June 2019). "Track body IAAF to rebrand as World Athletics". ESPN. Retrieved 9 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Athletics: Sebastian Coe Elected IAAF President". BBC Sport: Athletics. 19 August 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  3. ^ Reprint (page 226) at Google Books UK (
      The 1912 Stockholm Olympics: Essays on the Competitions, the People, the City, eds. Leif Yttergren and Hans Bolling, Jefferson NC and London: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7864-7131-7.
      Translated from the Swedish: Stockholmsolympiaden 1912 (Stockholm: Stockholmia, 2012).
  4. ^ "IAAF Presidential Election History". Jesse Squire, Daily Relay, 18 August 2015.
  5. ^ "The Beginning of the IAAF: A study of its background and foundation". Dr. Hans Bolling, (adviser: Prof. em. Jan Lindroth), Stockholm/Sweden 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Roan, Dan (2 August 2015). "Leaked IAAF Doping Files: WADA 'Very Alarmed' by Allegations". BBC Sport: Athletics. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  7. ^ "IAAF Accused of Suppressing Athletes' Doping Study". BBC Sport: Athletics. 16 August 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  8. ^ a b "Former IAAF President Under Criminal Investigation for Doping Cover-Up". Sports Illustrated. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  9. ^ "Athletics doping: Interpol to co-ordinate probe". BBC News. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Athletics Doping: WADA Report Calls for Russia Ban". BBC Sport: Athletics. 9 November 2015. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b "IAAF scandal worse than Fifa's, says US great Michael Johnson". 10 December 2017 – via
  12. ^ Mark Daly and Dan Roan (24 January 2016). "Adidas to end IAAF sponsorship deal early in wake of doping crisis". BBC Sport: Athletics. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Nestle ends IAAF sponsorship deal". 10 February 2016 – via
  14. ^ Nesha Starcevic and Stephen Wilson (17 June 2016). "IAAF upholds bans on Russian athletes for Rio Games". Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  15. ^ Ingle, Sean (6 March 2016). "Why the IAAF must ensure Russia remains banned for Rio Olympics". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  16. ^ Ingle, Sean (1 March 2018). "Sebastian Coe tells Russia: IAAF will still play hardball despite IOC decision". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  17. ^ Lowell, Hugo (20 September 2018). "Russian athletics to remain in wilderness despite Wada ruling". Retrieved 14 February 2019.
  18. ^ [1]
  19. ^ "IAAF National Member Federations". Retrieved 8 August 2015.
  20. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 20 May 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link). IAAF.
  21. ^ a b "Basic Information Guide: 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships, Punta Umbria, Spain". IAAF. 10 September 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  22. ^ IAAF, ITRA and WMRA forge new partnership to host combined trail and mountain running world championships. IAAF (2018-08-28). Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  23. ^ "IAAF Competition Rules 2016-2017" (PDF). International Association of Athletics Federations. 1 November 2015. p. 315. Retrieved 29 October 2017.
  24. ^ "IAAF: Official IAAF world rankings first step in fundamental changes in athletics| News |". Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  25. ^ New IAAF Athletes' Commission members announced . IAAF (2019-10-06). Retrieved 2019-10-07.

External links[edit]