Important decisions regarding World Athletics’ World Plan, working groups and competition rules were among those made at the 233rd World Athletics Council Meeting in Monaco on 7-8 December.
In his summary of the year, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe highlighted the success of the World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 held in August; a first-rate event that left stakeholders and fans in no doubt that athletics is a sport that is punching its weight and on the move.
Recognising the exceptional performances by the stars in our sport, Coe also gave credit to their efforts off the field of play, as athletes have become increasingly active and engaged in promoting athletics at all levels, including an upcoming Netflix documentary – initiated by World Athletics.
Coe reflected on the strength of the new Executive Board and Council, demonstrated in the discussions that have taken place over the past couple of months, and the restructuring of the World Athletics Headquarters team to support World Athletics’ agenda of innovation.
Looking forward, Coe added: “The year 2024 is going to be one of change. In a decade from now, I want people to look back at 2024 and say the decisions the sport made that year not only future proofed athletics, but significantly accelerated its popularity and value.”
The World Athletics Council reached the following decisions during its two-day meeting:
WORLD PLAN IMPLEMENTATION TASKFORCE
The World Athletics Council approved the establishment of a World Plan Implementation Taskforce to build on the milestones already achieved in the World Plan for Athletics 2022-2030 and continue to promote and build on this momentum throughout the duration of the plan.
The World Plan Implementation Taskforce will be chaired by Council Member Willie Banks, who was Chair of the World Plan Implementation Working Group. The membership will build on the previous Working Group, with both Council Members and Member Federations represented.
The terms of reference for the World Plan Implementation Taskforce have been approved by Council and once the membership is also agreed will be published in the World Athletics Library.
WORKING GROUPS AND COMMISSIONS UPDATES
Working Group on Gender Diverse Athletes
Following Council approval of the establishment of a Working Group on Gender Diverse Athletes for a period of one year, terms of reference have been set and its membership confirmed.
The Working Group on Gender Diverse Athletes is an expert advisory body appointed by the Council and charged with keeping abreast of developments in law, science, sports and society concerning gender diverse athletes. Its mission is to enable World Athletics to be thorough and considered about the implications of any such developments for its programming, eligibility rules and educational initiatives as the organisation upholds its core commitments to its elite global community.
The members of the Working Group are:
• Doriane Coleman – Independent Chair
• Jimmy Lindberg – Independent Athlete
• Jan Swinhoe – Member Federation Official
• Antoine Bruneau – Member Federation Official
• Aisha Praught-Leer – Athletes’ Commission
• Donna Raynor – Council Member
• Sylvia Barlag – Council Member
• Raul Chapado – Vice President
• Ximena Restrepo – Senior Vice President
• Stephane Bermon – World Athletics Health and Science Director (non-voting)
The Working Group will present its final report to World Athletics’ Council before December 2024.
Working Group on the status of Russians / Belarussians in International Competition and Events
The World Athletics Council has also confirmed the members of the Working Group on the status of Russians / Belarussians in International Competition and Events.
The members of the Working Group are:
• Francis Dodoo – Chair
• Beatrice Ayikoru – Council Member
• Anna Riccardi – Council Member
• Ami Baran – Member Federation Official
• Lea Sprunger – Athletes’ Commission
The Working Group’s role is to advise and recommend to Council on matters including the following (among others):
· Whether the sanctions are sufficient or if they should be replaced, added, or varied with other sanctions to be imposed pursuant to Article 13 of the World Athletics Constitution
· Consider the conditions and criteria that would need to be in place to permit at some point in the future participation of Russian and Belarussian Athletes, Athlete Support Personnel, Member Federation Officials and other Officials to participate and/or attend World Athletics Series Events or the Olympic Games
All decisions relating to recommendations from the Working Group still lie with the Council.
Both the Russian Athletics Federation and Belarus Athletic Federation have been informed of the role of the Working Group and its members.
The membership and/or terms of reference have also been approved for the 2023-2027:
• Athletes’ Commission
• Competition Commission
• Development Commission
• Governance Commission
All terms of reference documents for the above-mentioned groups will be published in the World Athletics Library once available.
HUMAN RIGHTS POLICY
As part of World Athletics’ Human Rights Strategy, the Council has approved the Human Rights Policy presented by the Governance Commission.
The Human Rights Policy, which reiterates World Athletics’ commitment to respecting all internationally proclaimed human rights, will be disseminated to all Member Federations and Area Associations, and contains principles such as:
· Recognising the dignity and worth of every person participating in Athletics
· Using the power of sport to engage and drive change for a better world
· Promoting equality, in particular equality of opportunity between the sexes, dignity, and fairness in sport competitions and sport governance
The Policy will be published in the World Athletics Library in due course.
The Council received a detailed update in relation to progress made in relation to safeguarding. This included plans to update the World Athletics Safeguarding Policy, the safeguarding materials World Athletics will be producing for Area Associations to use, safeguarding plans for World Athletics Series events and the roll out of the World Athletics Safeguarding Essentials course. The Council also approved the appointment of Jean Gracia to the Safeguarding Taskforce in place of Karin Grute-Movin. In addition, they agreed to the addition of two members of the Athletes’ Commission to the Taskforce.
Timetables confirmed for Antalya and Lima
The World Athletics Council has approved the competition timetables for the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Antalya 24 and the World Athletics U20 Championships Lima 24.
The World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Antalya 24 will be held on 21 April 2024.
Like the World Athletics U20 Championships Nairobi 21, the World Athletics U20 Championships Lima 24 will take place across five days, from 27-31 August 2024.
There will be morning and afternoon sessions on the first four days, then one session on the last day with 13 finals spread throughout the three-hour programme.
The timetable can be accessed here.
Dates confirmed for World Athletics Road Running Championships San Diego 25 and World Athletics Cross Country Championships Tallahassee 26
The Council also confirmed the dates for the World Athletics Road Running Championships San Diego 25 and World Athletics Cross Country Championships Tallahassee 26. The date for the World Athletics Road Running Championships San Diego 25 has been approved as 26-28 September 2025, and the World Athletics Cross Country Championships Tallahassee 26 will take place on 10 January 2026.
World Athletics consulted with several athletes who would be expecting to compete in these championships, and they were overwhelmingly in favour of being able to complete the season as soon as possible after the World Athletics Championships Tokyo 25.
Bahamas 24 seeding approach for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games
The World Athletics Council also approved that seeding for the first round of relay competition at the Paris Olympic Games be determined at the World Athletics Relays Bahamas 24. The event in The Bahamas will automatically qualify 14 teams to Paris, but Council has confirmed that the finishing order of the top eight teams in the Bahamas finals will, additionally, determine first round seeding rights to the best lanes for Paris 2024.
Other competition decisions
In other competition decisions, it was confirmed that the substitutions policy for the mixed 4x400m, which currently allows one substitution at the World Athletics Championships, will be extended to apply to all World Athletics Series events.
At major competitions, the Chief Race Walking Judge has the power to disqualify an athlete in the last 100m of the race if in breach of Race Walking Rules and regardless of any red cards received. The proposal that this power be extended to all World Rankings Competitions has been approved by the World Athletics Council.
An update regarding difference in composition in high stress areas of the competition infield has also been approved. In the Construction of the Track in the Track & Field Facilities Manual, rules for the thickness requirements of the track are set. High stress areas on the infield will now be able to have slightly different tensity and durability properties in comparison to the running oval, in recognition of this difference in composition.
WORLD ATHLETICS ANTI-DOPING RULES
The World Athletics Council also approved a recommendation from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to strengthen Rule 15 of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules – specifically as it relates to the minimum testing requirements for athletes from Category A Member Federations prior to major events.
The Council has approved strengthening Rule 15.5.1(c) to the following:
1. That the first out-of-competition test of the required three occurs at least 12 weeks prior to the event; and
2. That all required testing for the purposes of the Rule be completed just prior to final entries – at the deadline for refusal of quota places – rather than right up to the start of the event.
The view of the AIU Board is that the right balance is that the minimum starting point for testing under Rule 15.5.1(c) be 12 weeks, with the matter kept under review. The Athletes’ Commission was consulted on this proposal and shared the view of the AIU Board.