IBU aims to be winter sports leader with Biathlon Integrity Unit

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has furthered its reform efforts by announcing that it is set to establish a new independent integrity unit.

The news comes as the IBU continues to deal with the fallout from last year’s criminal investigations focused on corruption, doping and fraud against former president Anders Besseberg, and secretary general Nicole Resch.

The IBU has since undertaken a number of governance reforms and its Executive Board has now decided that a new, operationally independent Biathlon Integrity Unit (BIU) should be established as part of its ongoing commitment to implementing the highest standards in good governance, transparency and anti-doping rules.

The BIU will be designed to centrally manage all integrity-related matters concerning biathlon, including anti-doping, ethical breaches, betting-related issues or any kind of result manipulation. As well as dealing with wrongdoing when it occurs, the Unit, which will be managed independently of the IBU, will also seek to strengthen the capacity to prevent potential future wrongdoing.

The IBU’s plan is similar to that introduced by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which formed the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in 2017 in the wake of its own highly-publicised governance crisis.

The new setup will be part of a draft of the new IBU Constitution, which will be deliberated and voted upon by IBU members, national federations, at an Extraordinary Congress in October. IBU president Olle Dahlin said: “The IBU is dedicated to protecting the integrity of biathlon. It is critical that we have robust measures in place to safeguard our sport from those who try to undermine its values.

“The creation of an independent Biathlon Integrity Unit will ensure that any alleged future breaches of the IBU’s rules are dealt with robustly, effectively and credibly. The concentration of knowledge and expertise in this Unit will also greatly benefit our future education and prevention efforts with our athletes, national federations and officials.

“We are sure that when we present this proposal to our national federations they will recognise that this in the best interests of biathlon and will protect the integrity of our sport and our clean athletes in the future.”

The IBU’s independent External Review Commission, which has been mandated to recommend reforms to the IBU Constitution, has advocated for the establishment of the Biathlon Integrity Unit.

Jonathan Taylor QC, chair of the IBU’s External Review Commission, added: “The decision to include a Biathlon Integrity Unit in the draft Constitution sends a strong message that the IBU wants to pursue best practice in sports governance and to be an International Federation working under the highest standards of integrity and transparency.

“Centralising all integrity-related issues under the management of an expert and operationally independent unit will position the IBU as a leader in integrity in winter sports.”