|Formation||17 July 1912|
|Headquarters||6-8, quai Antoine-Ier, Monaco|
|214 member federations|
World Athletics, previously known as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), is the international governing body for the sport of athletics, covering track and field, cross country running, road running, racewalking, mountain running and ultrarunning. Included in its charge are the standardization of rules and regulations for the sports, recognition and management of world records, and the organisation and sanctioning of athletics competitions, including the World Athletics Championships. The organisation's president is Sebastian Coe of the United Kingdom. He was elected in 2015 and re-elected unopposed in 2019 for a further four years.
It was founded on 17 July 1912 as the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) by representatives from 17 national athletics federations at the organization's first meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, with a first congress in Berlin in 1913. It was headquartered in Stockholm from 1912 to 1946, in London from 1946 to 1993, then moved to its current location in Monaco thereafter. Beginning in 1982, the IAAF passed several amendments to its rules to allow athletes to receive compensation for participating in international competitions. However, the organization retained the word amateur in its name until its 2001 congress, at which it changed its name to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). In June 2019 the IAAF approved a rebranding of the organization to World Athletics, with a gradual rollout beginning after the 2019 World Championships in Doha.
The process to found the IAAF was started at a meeting in Stockholm, Sweden on 17 July 1912 soon after the completion of the 1912 Summer Olympics in that city. Here 27 representatives from 17 national federations agreed to meet at a congress in Germany the following year, overseen by Sigfrid Edström who was to become the fledgling organisation's first president. The congress that started on 20 August 1913 in Berlin is when the foundation of the IAAF was formally completed.
The IAAF is headed by a President. The IAAF council has a total of 26 elected members, comprising one president, four vice-presidents (one senior), the presidents of the six area associations, two members of the Athletes' Commission and 13 Council members. Each member of the IAAF Council is elected for a four-year period by the IAAF Congress. The IAAF Congress is a biennial gathering of athletics officials which consists of the IAAF Council, Honorary Members, and up to three delegates from each of the national member federations. Chairpersons and member of IAAF Committees, which manage specialist portfolios, are also elected by the IAAF Congress. There are four committees: the IAAF Cross Country Committee, the IAAF Race Walking Committee, the IAAF Technical Committee, and the IAAF Women's Committee. A further three committees were launched in 2019: Development, Governance and Competitions. The governance structure is outlined in the IAAF Constitution, which may be amended by the Congress.
The IAAF Council appoints a chief executive officer (CEO), who is focused on improving the coverage of the sport and the organisation's commercial interests. This role was created and merged with the General Secretary role that had existed previously. British former athlete and businessman Jon Ridgeon was appointed to the role in December 2018.Olivier Gers was the first person to officially hold the position in 2016, succeeding the interim CEO/General Secretary Jean Gracia.
In order to give active athletes a voice in the governance of the sport, the IAAF created the Athletes' Commission. Athletes are elected to the commission by other athletes, typically held at the IAAF Congress attached to the World Athletics Championships. The commission chairperson and one other athlete of the opposite sex are giving voting rights on the IAAF Council. The last election was held in October 2019 at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.
Following doping and corruption issues, an IAAF Code of Ethics was agreed in 2013 and IAAF Ethics Commission was appointed in 2014. The IAAF Council appoints the chairperson from the elected members, and in turn the chairperson appoints a deputy chair. The Ethics Board's scope was limited in 2017 with the creation of the independent Athletics Integrity Unit, headed by Australia's Brett Clothier, to oversee ethical issues and complaints at arms length.
The International Athletics Foundation is a charity closely associated with the IAAF, that engages in projects and programmes to develop the sport. Albert II, Prince of Monaco is the Honorary President and the role of IAF President is held by the IAAF President. An IAAF Heritage department was created in 2018 to maintain historic artefacts and display them through a physical gallery in Monaco, a virtual online gallery, and a travelling exhibition. The department also issues World Athletics Heritage Plaques to commemorate locations of historic interest to the sport.
Since the establishment of the IAAF, it has had six presidents:
|Lord Burghley (later Lord Exeter)||United Kingdom||1946-1976|
|Sebastian Coe||United Kingdom||2015-|
|Sebastian Coe||President||United Kingdom||Former athlete and politician|
|Sergey Bubka||Senior Vice-President||Ukraine||Former athlete|
|Ximena Restrepo||Vice-President||Colombia||Former athlete|
Area Association President
|Nawaf Bin Mohammed Al Saud||Vice-President||Saudi Arabia||Prince and sports administrator|
|Hiroshi Yokokawa||Council Member||Japan||Businessman|
|Antti Pihlakoski||Council Member||Finland||Sports administrator|
|Anna Riccardi||Council Member||Italy||Translator and sports administrator|
|Nan Wang||Council Member||China||Sports administrator|
|Adille Sumariwalla||Council Member||India||Former athlete and businessman|
|Nawal El Moutawakel||Council Member||Morocco||Former athlete|
|Abby Hoffman||Council Member||Canada||Former athlete|
|Sylvia Barlag||Council Member||Netherlands||Former athlete and physicist|
|Alberto Juantorena||Council Member||Cuba||Former athlete|
|Willie Banks||Council Member||United States||Former athlete|
|Raúl Chapado||Council Member||Spain||Former athlete|
|Dobromir Karamarinov||Council Member||Bulgaria||Former athlete and coach|
|Beatrice Ayikoru||Council Member||Uganda||Sports administrator|
|Víctor López||Area Association President||Puerto Rico||Track and field coach|
|Hamad Kalkaba Malboum||Area Association President||Cameroon||Former athlete and military official|
|Dahlan Jumaan Al Hamad||Area Association President||Qatar||Sports administrator|
|Svein Arne Hansen||Area Association President||Norway||Track meet director|
|Roberto Gesta de Melo||Area Association President||Brazil||Sports administrator|
|Iñaki Gómez||Athlete's Commission Member||Canada||Former athlete|
|Valerie Adams||Athlete's Commission Member||New Zealand||Athlete|
As of 1 November 2015:
To allow athletes of different ages to compete against athletes of similar ability, several age categories are maintained. The open class of competition without age limit is defined as "senior". For younger athletes, the IAAF organises events for under-20 athletes (athletes aged 18 or 19 years on 31 December of the year of the competition) as well as under-18 athletes (athletes aged 16 or 17 years on 31 December of the year of the competition), historically referred to as "junior" and "youth" age groups, respectively. Age-group competitions over the age of 35 are organised by World Masters Athletics and are divided into five-year groupings.
The organisation is a signatory to the World Anti-Doping Agency's World Anti-Doping Code and applies sanctions to athletes, coaches and other sportspeople who breach the code through doping or impeding any anti-doping actions.
International level athletics competitions are mostly divided by sex and the IAAF applies eligibility rules for the women's category. Legally male athletes are excluded from competing in this category. Athletes who are legally female or intersex may be subject to rules to handle for differences of sex development (DSD) depending on their physiology. Currently, limitations only apply to athletes competing in track running events from 400 metres to the mile run, though the IAAF publicly remains open to extending this to other events based on new scientific study. A female or intersex athlete will be subject to DSD rules where they have XY male chromosomes, testes rather than ovaries, have circulating testosterone within the typical male range (7.7 to 29.4 nmol/L), and are androgen-sensitive so that their body makes use of that testosterone. The IAAF requires that any such athlete must reduce their blood testosterone level to 5 nmol/L or lower for a six month period before becoming eligible for international competition. The IAAF created these rules as a way to ensure fair competition in the women's category.
The rules have been challenged by affected athletes in the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), though no athlete has done so successfully. In May 2019, CAS upheld the rules on the basis that discrimination against the minority of DSD athletes was proportional as a method of preserving access to the female category to a much larger majority of women without DSDs.
World Athletics organizes many major athletics competitions worldwide.
|Competition||Sport||Frequency||First held||Last held|
|World Athletics Championships+||Outdoor athletics||Biennial||1983||Ongoing|
|World Athletics Indoor Championships||Indoor track and field||Biennial||1985||Ongoing|
|IAAF World Cross Country Championships||Cross country running||Biennial||1973||Ongoing|
|IAAF World Half Marathon Championships?||Half marathon||Biennial||1992||Ongoing|
|IAAF World U20 Championships++||Outdoor track and field||Biennial||1986||Ongoing|
|IAAF World Race Walking Team Championships+++||Racewalking||Biennial||1961||Ongoing|
|IAAF Continental Cup++++||Outdoor track and field||Quadrennial||1977||Ongoing|
|IAAF World Relays||Outdoor track relays||Biennial||2014||Ongoing|
|IAAF World Trail and Mountain Running Championships||Trail and mountain running||Biennial||2021||Ongoing|
|IAAF World U18 Championships in Athletics||Outdoor track and field||Biennial||1999||2017|
|IAAF World Marathon Cup||Biennial||Marathon||1985||2011|
|IAAF World Road Relay Championships||Ekiden||Biennial||1986||1998|
|IAAF World Women's Road Race Championships||10K run/15K run||Annual||1983||1991|
|Competition||Sport||First held||Last held|
|IAAF Diamond League||Outdoor track and field||2010||Ongoing|
|World Athletics Continental Tour||Outdoor track and field||2020||Ongoing|
|IAAF World Indoor Tour||Indoor track and field||2016||Ongoing|
|IAAF Road Race Label Events||Road running||2008||Ongoing|
|IAAF Cross Country Permit Meetings||Cross country||1999||Ongoing|
|IAAF Combined Events Challenge||Decathlon/heptathlon||1998||Ongoing|
|IAAF Race Walking Challenge||Racewalking||2003||Ongoing|
|IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge||Hammer throw||2010||Ongoing|
|WMRA World Cup||Mountain running||1997||Ongoing|
|IAAF World Challenge||Outdoor track and field||2010||2019|
|IAAF Indoor Permit Meetings||Indoor track and field||1997||2015|
|IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final||Racewalking||2007||2012|
|IAAF World Athletics Tour||Outdoor track and field||2006||2009|
|IAAF Golden League||Outdoor track and field||1998||2009|
|IAAF Super Grand Prix||Outdoor track and field||2003||2009|
|IAAF Grand Prix||Outdoor track and field||1985||2009|
|IAAF World Athletics Final||Outdoor track and field||2003||2009|
|IAAF World Outdoor Meetings||Outdoor track and field||2003||2006|
|IAAF Grand Prix Final||Outdoor track and field||1985||2002|
|IAAF World Cross Challenge||Cross country||1990||2000|
|IAAF Golden Events||Outdoor track and field||1978||1982|
The IAAF became more involved in the realm of annual one-day meetings as the sport began to professionalise in the late 1970s. Between 1978 and 1982, the IAAF staged twelve Golden Events, all for men and principally in track running, which saw the IAAF offer prizes to encourage . Three years later in 1985, an annual track and field circuit was created in the form of the IAAF Grand Prix, which linked together existing top level one-day meetings with a season-ending IAAF Grand Prix Final for a selection of men's and women's events. The IAAF World Cross Challenge followed in 1990 and began an annual series for cross country running. The track and field circuit was expanded in 1993 with the creation of the IAAF Grand Prix II level then the IAAF Golden League in 1998. The IAAF began recognising annual indoor track meets via the IAAF Indoor Permit Meetings series in 1997, and in 1998 decathletes and heptathletes found seasonal support with the creation of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge. The World Cross Challenge was disbanded in 2000 and cross country reverted to a permit format via the IAAF Cross Country Permit Meetings. The IAAF Race Walking Challenge was initiated in 2003 to provide a seasonal calendar for racewalking.
The IAAF reformed its track and field circuit in 2003, with the IAAF World Outdoor Meetings series grouping together five tiers of annual track and field competitions: the Golden League, IAAF Super Grand Prix, Grand Prix, Grand Prix II, and the IAAF World Athletics Final. The new final format was brought in with a new global performance ranking system for qualification and featured an increased programme of track and field events, mirroring the World Championships in Athletics programme bar the road events, combined events, relays, and the 10,000 metres. The final achieved gender parity in events in 2005, with the inclusion of a women's 3000 metres steeplechase. The track and field circuit was rebranded as the IAAF World Athletics Tour in 2006, which removed the global rankings and the IAAF Grand Prix II (this was replaced with a level of meetings given permit status by continental governing bodies). With the IAAF having recognised the sport of mountain running in 2002, the annual WMRA World Cup meetings received official sanctioning in 2006. The IAAF Race Walking Challenge Final was created in 2007 to serve as a seasonal final for the Race Walking Challenge. The IAAF designed a sanctioning process for the road running competitions in 2008, with races having to meet organisational requirements to achieve Gold or Silver status under the IAAF Road Race Label Events brand. This incorporated the World Marathon Majors (a privately-run series for major marathons initiated in 2006) within the Gold Label category. Road running was the last sport governed by the IAAF to receive seasonal sanctioning.
The 2010 season saw several changes to the IAAF's one-day governance. The World Athletics Tour was made defunct and replaced with three separate series: the 14-meet IAAF Diamond League as the top level of track meetings, the IAAF World Challenge as a second tier of track meetings, and the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge as the top level of hammer throwing contests (as hammer was not included in the Diamond League). The Road Race Label grouping was also expanded that year with the creation of a Bronze label status. The Race Walking Challenge Final was removed from the racewalking schedule after 2012, as the series focused more on international championship performances. In 2016, the IAAF World Indoor Tour was introduced as a replacement of the Indoor Permit Meetings series.
The track and field circuit is due for further changes in 2020, which involves the rebranding from IAAF to World Athletics, an increase in the number of Diamond League meetings, the reduction of Diamond League events from 32 to 24, reduction of the Diamond League television running time to 90 minutes, the creation of a one-day Diamond League final, and the relaunch of the World Challenge series as the World Athletics Continental Tour.
The organisation hosts the annual World Athletics Awards, formerly the World Athletics Gala until 2017, at the end of each year to recognise the achievements of athletes and other people involved in the sport. Members may also be inducted into the IAAF Hall of Fame as part of the ceremony. The following awards are given:
In 2015, a whistleblower leaked IAAF's blood test records from major competitions. The records revealed that, between 2001 and 2012, athletes with suspicious drug test results won a third of the medals in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships--a total of 146 medals including 55 golds--but the World Athletics caught none of them. After reviewing the results, Robin Parisotto, a scientist and leading "anti-doping" expert, said, "Never have I seen such an alarmingly abnormal set of blood values. So many athletes appear to have doped with impunity, and it is damning that the IAAF appears to have idly sat by and let this happen." Craig Reedie, president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), said his organisation was "very disturbed by these new allegations ... which will, once again, shake the foundation of clean athletes worldwide", and that its "independent commission will investigate the claims".
Around the same time, the University of Tübingen in Germany claimed that the IAAF suppressed publication of a 2011 report in which "[h]undreds of athletes", as many as a third of the world's top athletes, "admitted violating anti-doping rules".
On 1 November 2015, former IAAF president Lamine Diack was arrested in France and is under investigation on suspicion of corruption and money laundering. Diack allegedly accepted "$1.2 million from the Russian athletics federation to cover up the positive doping tests of at least six Russian athletes in 2011."
In November 2015, WADA published its report, which found "systemic failures" in the World Athletics had prevented an "effective" anti-doping programme and concluded that Russia should be banned from competing in international competitions because of its athletes' test results. The report continued that "the World Athletics allowed the conduct to occur and must accept its responsibility" and that "corruption was embedded" in the organization.
In January 2016, as a result of the doping scandal and WADA's report, the World Athletics's biggest sponsor, Adidas, announced that it was ending its sponsorship deal with the World Athletics four years early. The BBC reported that as a result the IAAF would lose $33 million (£23 million) worth of revenue. The 11-year sponsorship deal with Adidas was due to run until 2019. World-record holding sprinter Michael Johnson described the scandal as more serious than that faced by FIFA. In February 2016, Nestlé announced that it was ending its World Athletics sponsorship.
In June 2016, following a meeting of the IAAF's ruling council, the IAAF upheld its ban on Russia's track and field team from entering the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. In February 2017, All-Russia Athletic Federation disqualified by decision of the IAAF Council for 8 years for the creation of a doping system.
The IAAF has since resisted demands that Russia be re-instated, on the basis that the country repeatedly failed to satisfy all the agreed criteria. The decision was supported by Sean Ingle of The Guardian who wrote in a column that the World Athletics should maintain their ban on Russia through the 2016 Olympics in Rio. That meant Russian athletes could compete at all major events in the following years, including the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London and the 2018 European Championships in Berlin only as neutral athletes. In September 2018, the World Athletics faced a legal challenge by Russia to overturn the suspension after the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, but Hugo Lowell of the i newspaper reported the country's status would not change. The legal case was later dropped.