News 9 June 2015

IOC suspends relationship with SportAccord

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended its recognition of SportAccord and withdrew its funding, after a number of the international sporting federations that SportAccord represents suspended their membership after President Marius Vizer issued an IOC reform plan in April. The IOC cited ‘serious internal problems’ at SportAccord as the reason behind its decision. ‘Like many members of SportAccord, we are suspending our recognition and we will withhold our funding until these questions are answered and an agreement between the stakeholders has been reached’, read a 7 June IOC statement.

Vizer stepped down on 31 May, however was unapologetic for his IOC reform plan. ‘Everything I proposed is right and I hope to have opened a door that had been closed for a century, and I hope it remains open forever for the benefit of sport and its values’, read his resignation statement. ‘Today, the system working behind the doors is dictated by nobility titles or family inherited titles, or by members appointed for life and I hope that in the future, the basic criteria of the system will be dictated by the achievements in sport, professionalism, performances, fair-play, transparency and the courage to express the truth’. In a poll on Inside The Games, over 90% of respondents supported Vizer’s planned reforms.

Numerous sporting federations began to withdraw from SportAccord after Vizer presented his IOC reform plan at the a 20 April opening address of the SportAccord Convention World Sport and Business Summit. Vizer’s plan included introduction of prize money for athletes competing at the Olympic Games; an increase in revenue sharing to 25% of Olympic Games revenue to go to international federations; complete independence of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS); ensuring that any Olympic TV channel established by the IOC will be 50% owned by the international federations; and more.

Vizer also criticised the IOC’s Agenda 2020 programme for not properly addressing the concerns of the international sporting federations that SportAccord represents. He specifically singled out recommendation nine – which limits accreditation for the Olympic programme – and recommendation 10 – which suggests reviewing the Olympic programme based on events rather than sports. “Recommendation 9 and 10 of Agenda 2020 lead to a destabilising of the Olympic sports”, he said. “We must protect the Olympic sports and disciplines currently in the Olympic programme and at the same time we must encourage and support the new sports and disciplines who want to join”. Vizer said that the IOC system “is expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent”.

The IOC said that it would provide anti-doping services that had previously been managed by SportAccord to international sporting federations. ‘We are offering the IFs concerned all the services and advice in the fight against doping which have been offered so far by SportAccord and financed by the IOC and WADA’, read its statement. ‘We will be making the same offer with regard to good governance as well as on match-fixing and related corruption, and the IOC is ready to provide this support directly. We must ensure that there is not a vacuum during this ongoing process.’ The IOC said it provides about US$300,000 annually to SportAccord, including $160,000 for anti-doping programs.

SportAccord was initially a brand name given to the 2003 annual conference of the General Association of International Sporting Federations (GAISF), where international sporting federations met with broadcasters and sponsors interested in becoming involved with their sporting events. In 2009, due to the success of the conference, the GAISF adopted the SportAccord brand name. Until recently, SportAccord had 92 international sporting federation members and 17 associate members (organisations such as the Commonwealth Games Federation).

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