With the Olympics on the way this summer those in the world of athletics should be feeling excited about the prospect of a few weeks when people actually bother to watch their sport. But the discipline’s governing body has been rocked by a massive doping scandal that now appears to have cost it a major sponsor.
According to the BBC, the German sportswear maker Adidas has decided to end its multi-million pound relationship with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) three years before it was due to expire. The move could cost the IAAF as much as $8m (£5.6m) per year. That might not sound like much in the grand scheme of things but is pretty drastic when compared to projected total IAAF revenues of $81.9m this year (and just $42.8m in 2015). Both parties have refused to confirm the deal’s termination.
Adidas’s decision to act follows the publication in October of a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that implicated the IAAF in a Russian state-sponsored doping scandal. Earlier this month WADA published a second report that claimed the governing body ‘allowed’ doping to occur, adding that ‘corruption was embedded in the organisation.’
Today’s news is another blow to Sebastian Coe, organiser of London’s 2012 Olympics, who has since become the IAAF’s president. Though the alleged wrongdoing took place under Coe’s predecessor, he now has the unenviable task of rebuilding trust in the organisation – something that would have been easier with that extra $8m per year.
Adidas’s crisis conscious might seem odd given that it didn't seem to make much fuss about the equivalent scandal that has engulfed world football's governing body FIFA. Its decision does leave the door open for its big US rival Nike to sponsor the IAAF. But given that Coe has already come under fire for being too close to the Oregon-based company, such a deal seems unlikely.