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Aquatics, judo and weightlifting languish in ASOIF governance review

Sun Yang of China at FINA Champions Swim Series 2020 in Beijing, China (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

Fina, the global governing body for aquatic sports, the International Judo Federation (IJF) and the under-fire International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) have all been ranked in the bottom tier in a review of international federations undertaken by the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).

The details of ASOIF’s third review of International Federation governance were unveiled today (Tuesday) with the sports bodies having been asked to check their governance against 50 measurable indicators across five topics: transparency; integrity; democracy; development; and control mechanisms.

Following the completion of the federations’ self-assessment questionnaires, which was undertaken between November 2019 and January 2020, the responses were reviewed and the scores moderated by Trust Sport, the UK-based sports governance consultancy.

The international federations were then grouped into four different categories based on their scores and the performance of each governing body has now been made public for the first time.

Fina, the IJF and the IWF were all placed in Group C, in which the international federations all scored between 84 and 119 points out of a possible 200. The International Surfing Association (ISA), World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and World Skate, whose sports will all feature as additional sports at Tokyo 2020, made up the rest of the bottom tier.

The IWF’s appearance in the bottom rung comes with weightlifting’s place at the Olympics under threat in the wake of the independent McLaren report that presented a damning overview of Tamás Aján’s reign as IWF president. The investigation team found that some $10.4m (€9.2m) in the IWF’s accounts was unaccounted for and that 40 positive doping tests were covered up while Aján was at the helm.

A total of 31 summer international federations participated. The International Boxing Association (Aiba), which has been under scrutiny since being stripped of the right to organise the Tokyo 2020 boxing tournament, was not included in the review.

The top six federations, which scored between 170 and 187 points, were classed in Group A1 and comprised badminton’s BWF, cycling’s UCI, equestrian sport’s FEI, football’s Fifa, rugby union’s World Rugby and tennis’ ITF.

Scores in Group A2 ranged from 140 to 158 points and the eight federations comprised World Athletics, Fiba (basketball), FIE (fencing), World Sailing, ITTF (table tennis), WT (taekwondo), ITU (triathlon) and UWW (wrestling).

The 11 federations in Group B scored between 123 and 137 points with the FIH (field hockey), FIG (gymnastics) and FIVB (volleyball), all featuring. The list also included World Archery, ICF (canoeing), IGF (golf), IHF (handball), UIPM (modern pentathlon), FISA (rowing), ISSF (shooting) and the IFSC (sport climbing).

Nearly all international federations showed improvements since ASOIF’s second edition of its governance assessment in 2017-18. A total of 18 improved by 20 points or higher with a further nine gaining over 10 points.

The lowest-scoring indicator was with regards to term limits with nine international federations not setting a time limit for elected officials and therefore scoring zero points in that category.

The transparency section was the highest scoring overall with, for instance, 26 of 31 international federations now publishing at least one set of annual, externally audited accounts. A total of 16 federations published some type of policy regarding allowances and expenses for officials and senior staff, up from just nine in 2018.

Asked by SportBusiness during a media call today about the reporting – or not – of financial results, Rowland Jack, the founder of Trust Sport, said: “We’ve seen a clear trend towards publication over a period of time. Several of those that haven’t published full accounts have published some financial information in an annual report, for example. I think we’re moving in a general direction [of increasing publishing of financial information].

“There is also a legal point about company law. Most of the international federations based in Switzerland are voluntary associations so they are subject to specific laws about that.”

ASOIF said that there is a trend towards publication of financial information and greater transparency, which it welcomes.

On gender representation, the report found that “one IF [international federation] had a board that was more than 40 per cent composed of women; 12 IFs had between 25 per cent and 40 per cent female representation, plus rules or a policy to encourage better gender balance; 10 IFs were between 15 per cent and 25 per cent; and 8 IFs had a board with the proportion of women below 15 per cent”.

The review also found that “fifteen out of 31 IFs were able to show that they had a safeguarding policy consistent with IOC [International Olympic Committee] guidelines that was being implemented”, while “eleven had a policy but it is very recent” and “five IFs had not yet adopted a policy but were working on one”.

Commenting on the findings, ASOIF president and its Governance Task Force (GTF) chair Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “A lot of progress has been achieved over the past years and the overall trend is clearly positive. Certain reforms take longer to be implemented as they require changes to the statues or the approval of the General Assembly. The results we are sharing today are a snapshot of the current commitment of the IFs.”

He added: “The environment in which IFs operate has become more complex and subject to more scrutiny. The global health crisis further complicates the situation.

“Sports need to be well-governed to give themselves a better chance of thriving. It is my hope that the momentum will be maintained to tackle a number of areas where there is still significant room for improvement.”

The full report can be found here.