Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The IAAF Commissions and Bad Optics

Today the IAAF announced that it is creating 21 commissions and advisory groups:
The IAAF is pleased to announce the chairpersons of the new commissions and advisory groups (see list below) which are designed to assist the delivery of a fundamental programme of change to the sport's global administration.
In principle, a set of advisory bodies could indeed help the IAAF to address its ongoing crisis over doping, cover-ups and extortion. But in looking over the chairs of the 21 new committees, one name jumped out:
Harold Adams (RSA) - Medical and Anti-Doping Commission
I am familiar with Adams through my work on sex testing in sport, as he was a key player in the Caster Semenya controversy back in 2009. Back then he was accused by a member of the South African parliament of being the source of the leak of Semenya's medical information to the public. That would be a very serious offense if true - a serious violation of an athlete's rights.

But Adams brushes with controversy don't end there. According to South African media he was investigated by military police back in 2005 over distribution of medicine (at p. 35 in this book). Earlier this year he was accused of "a monumental cover-up" of allegations that officials at Athletics South Africa (not Adams) had stolen millions in lottery proceeds granted to the group. Adams is currently Vice President of the ASA.

Let me be clear that Adams may very well be perfectly innocent of all of these accusations. However, given the various allegations, it boggles the mind that the IAAF would appoint Adams to chair what is likely to be its most visible commission focused on delivering a "fundamental programme of change." Surely, athletics has a deeper bench of potential advisors than this?

More fundamentally, the choice reflects a degree of tone deafness and perhaps even arrogance in the face of institutional crisis.


Post a Comment