Sumariwalla disappointed with countries rejecting IAAF reforms

International Association of Athletics Federation governing council member Adille Sumariwalla has slammed countries which did not support radical reforms proposed to clean athletics.

Adille Sumariwalla (right) was appreciative of Sebastian Coe for limiting the term of the IAAF chief to three terms of four years each.   -  Sandeep Saxena

International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) governing council member Adille Sumariwalla has slammed countries which did not support radical reforms proposed to clean athletics. A radical governance structure reforms package was passed by the IAAF in a Special Congress in Monaco last month, with 182 member federations voting for it out of 197 present.

The 15-point reforms package includes placing more governance power in the hands of the IAAF Executive Board, limiting the number of terms of office for president to three of four years each, among others. Jamaica, Oman, Senegal, Ukraine and Uzbekistan abstained from voting while 10 countries - Benin, Bahrain, Chad, Gambia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Thailand - voted against the reforms package.

“Why [are] people against reforms? It reflects very badly on them. When 95 per cent of people are asking for better governance, you don’t want better governance, you want to remain in 1940s. It is a shame that these countries abstained or voted against the reforms,” Sumariwalla, also Athletics Federation of India president, told PTI.

“Usain Bolt has openly questioned his own association (Jamaica) for not voting for the reforms. There is some nonsensical political motive which I don’t know,” he said.

Some countries, including Jamaica, a leading athletics country, have reasoned that they were not happy as all the 15 points involving two constitutions, one of which will come into force this year and the other in 2019, were asked to vote en-bloc and not separately. Sumariwalla said he was disappointed that some countries would give such “lame excuses” as he said all the 15 points were interlinked and need to be voted together.

'Can't cut the thread'

“You can’t pass a single-point resolution at a time. If you make a change in one point it will affect other points, another change and it will impact on other points. For example, one is about removal of treasurer. But if you have to vote separately on that point it will have an impact on the executive board, on the elections, on the powers of new executive council. So you can’t vote separately on each point. It is a process, there is a thread going through all of the 15 points and if you cut the thread, there will be no meaning of the reforms,” he said.

Sumariwalla said IAAF President Sebastian Coe went to every continent regarding these reforms and got the views of the member countries before they were put to vote. “The president went to every region. Regarding Asia, Coe went to Doha. He went twice to Johannesburg. There were some changes made in the reforms after listening to everybody, then they were put to vote.

“Coe said the Integrity Unit will have to start functioning (from April 2017). So, let us pass the reforms now and when we meet at IAAF Congress in London during the World Championships, anybody can put up any modifications.

“He (Coe) said if there are any contentious issues, he will bring them up before the general body and there will be voting on them. Not only the reforms but any point in the constitution. If there is any contentious issue, Coe said he will bring them up and let the general body vote,” said Sumariwalla.

'Mobile-friendly athletics'

The AFI President lauded Coe for limiting the term of the IAAF chief to three terms of four years each. “It is a good thing that the term of president is being limited to three. What is wrong with that? In the history of 103 years of the IAAF, there have been only four presidents.”

He said athletics will have to innovate and reach out to the youth of the world if it has to remain a leading sport.

“We have to move forward, we have to go digital and find innovative ways. For example, we can make youngsters see Bolt running a race on a mobile phone. We need mobile friendly athletics to attract youngsters. There are so many things to do and people are blocking reforms.”