“Athletics Integrity Unit’s pioneering and holistic approach to sports integrity” – Aditya Kumar

“The AIU [Athletics Integrity Unit] was created in a quest for safeguarding the integrity of athletics” began Aditya Kumar, the Head of Education and Communications at the AIU. Taking a step back, he explained further the history of the Unit. “In December 2014, ARD – the German broadcaster, produced a documentary on the corruption and graft in athletics” shaking up the athletics world. “The damage to the sport was unforeseen, and everything that could go wrong, did go wrong,” continued Aditya.

One domino fell after another, and the AIU became operational in 2017, set up as an autonomous body to protect the integrity of the sport. The unit “is enshrined in the Constitution of the sport”, which means that any changes to the organisation require a 2/3rd majority from the World Athletics (WA) Board. With annual funding of $8 Million from the WA and a further $3 Million from private races, the AIU has continued to function as a truly independent body.

And what are the expectations for a unit like this? In consultation with all the stakeholders, Aditya revealed that the idea has been to have “robust governance, transparency, and effectiveness”. This is put into operation through an experienced Board of Members, transparency in spending and all the investigations – all of which can be found on their website. Their remit extends to anti-doping, harassment, corruption, and basically “to stop any sort of unethical behaviour that undermines the integrity of the sport.”

In terms of their investigations, until June 2021, they have put forth 210 cases, 70 of which involved Olympic and World Championships medalists, which shows “very high and sophisticated levels of cheating” that the AIU has been able to catch. Take the case of the Russian Federation, where even after the doping scandal before Rio 2016, there were several cases of independent athletes caught doping. One small loophole led to “15 months of investigation, plenty of interviews, over 7,000 documents translated” eventually uncovering a whole web of doping and corruption.

The AIU is “changing narratives about the sport” with their good work, striving to build “a culture of integrity and good values”. Keen to know more? Watch a replay of Aditya’s TALK and take an in-depth look into the work of the AIU.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Governance and Leadership, International Federations, SportWorks TALKS

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