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Ed Warner

27 August 2009

Article by Ed Warner as seen in Athletics Weekly Magazine

The IAAF Congress held in the days leading up to the World Championships proved once again a valuable forum for athletics’ federations to come together and discuss key issues. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you cannot really appreciate the sheer scale of this truly global sport until you are reminded of the number of countries taking part – there were seats for 213 federations at the Congress, almost all of them occupied.

As usual there were key proposals to debate, on which the UK had its say with varying degrees of success. For example, in line with our aims relating to anti doping, we wholeheartedly endorsed a proposal from the Swedish delegation that athletes returning from a ban of more than 6 months should be barred from all World Championships within that Olympic cycle.

Unfortunately the proposal did not reach the vote stage with the IAAF highlighting legal difficulties in implementing the rule. Whilst realising this is a difficult area, UKA believe that there must be some way of implementing a stronger deterrent going forward. We’ll look with others at ways of crafting a revised proposal by the next congress in 2011.

In relation to competition, the proposal for a ‘no false starts’ rule was passed with a large majority. UKA was one of that majority of supporters having seen it working successfully at the European Team Championships in Leiria just weeks ago as well as our Super8 event in June. This has positive implications for broadcasters. Overrunning, delaying other programmes and requiring “as live” edits towards the end of a broadcast can be a producer’s nightmare and a small factor such as fewer delays within the presentation can do wonders for the marketability of our sport.

Finally the Congress received a presentation from Daegu, hosts of the 2011 Worlds.  Even at this stage an IAAF competition committee is working hard with the South Korean organising committee on scheduling with a view to making the evening sessions shorter with fewer qualifying rounds. Whilst it is traditional to spread the event across the week, careful scheduling is required to ensure a decent level of excitement spaced equally but not too sparsely. 

It will be interesting to see how London 2012 Athletics Competitions Manager, Terry Colton tackles the challenge of the competition schedule for our home Games. It will be a fine balancing act for LOCOG to arrange events to meet the needs of the athletics audience, AND if possible to best create a home advantage for Team GB. Such a crucial role could not be in better hands, but for now, I await the 2011 schedule with interest.