Monaco IAAF Diary - Day 1: The IAAF Cuts Back To Save Itself

By Weldon Johnson, LetsRun.com
November 17, 2010

My apologies in advance. Instead of being a man of the people and going to Terre Haute, Indiana for the NCAA cross-country meet, I'm in Monaco on a junket living a life of luxury.

Let me explain. I am here at the IAAF's expense (my airfare and hotel). As part of the IAAF Annual Meetings and Gala, they have various working groups, including a working group on Image Rights & Terms of Accreditation. I'm a member of that group.

On one of the last days of the 2009 Worlds in Berlin, I was interviewing someone in the mixed zone and recording the video of the interview like I had done all week with my Flip video recorder. I was told that was not allowed and against the terms of accreditation. So I stopped doing it and then started talking to Anna Legnani, the IAAF Deputy Director of Communications, and told her if the IAAF ever had a conversation on Internet media and what should and should not be allowed, I'd love to be a part of the conversation. To Anna's credit, she didn't forget me mentioning that and when the IAAF put together this group this fall, she wanted an Internet media representative and wrote me asking if I wanted to take part - further proof of the world-wide dominance of the little LetsRun.com. That's a joke, but I am surprised at how many people here have commented on the LetsRun stories on Haile Gebrselassie and the NYTimes. They appreciate our work.

So I've been in Monaco two days. I'll have more on the goings-on in town here later (it's the home of Paula Radcliffe and I ran into Bernard Lagat in front of the casino today), but onto official business. Today was Day 1 of the IAAF Council Meeting. At the end of the day, the IAAF issued a report on what happened and they also had IAAF General Secretary Nick Davies brief the press.

You can read the official details here in the IAAF article. The main news was related to the IAAF budget. I'll briefly touch on what I saw as the major developments and try and give you a little info you won't find elsewhere, plus some of my impressions.

The IAAF Has Righted Its Financial Ship

1) The IAAF got its finances in better order by slashing expenditures. At the start of the year, the IAAF anticipated a $16 million loss this year. In August, they put that number at $9 million after $7 million was cut from the budget. Bigger cuts (up to 30% in some areas) will come in 2011 and will put the financial situation on better footing through 2015 (the old projections basically called for the IAAF to run out of money).

As the IAAF release states, the IAAF is projecting that it will now have more than the goal of $50 million (one year's budget) in reserves for each of the years through 2015 and will have more in reserves in 2015 than 2011. So basically that means they won't lose money from 2011 to 2015. IAAF General Secretary Nick Davies indicated that the situation would be a bit better, as he said the plan was to have $69 million in reserves in 2015. For reference, the IAAF had $81 million in reserves at the end of 2008, so the last few years have not been kind to the IAAF.

The IAAF is getting its books in order with an "austerity" program. Expenditures are being cut up to 30% in many areas (not prize money for athletes). Davies cited taking less IAAF people to events like World Juniors, flying coach instead of business class, and cutbacks to the frequency of the IAAF "Day in the Life" program that takes journalists to athletes' homes as examples of cutbacks. Fortunately my hotel room was not cut, nor was my first class ticket (THAT IS ANOTHER BAD JOKE - I flew coach class).

Nick Davies said the signing of Samsung as the Title Sponsor of the Diamond League helps bring in $4 million a year extra and made the picture better as well.

The Sport Is Not As Popular In Europe As You Think
One quick point for all the Americans who think the sport is super-popular in Europe: One of the main reasons for the IAAF's financial problems is that their old European television deal expired and the IAAF is not bringing in as much with the current deal. The old deal was worth more than $20 million a year according to Davies. A deal was not in place for 2010 for a bunch of European countries, and Davies did not say what the current deal is worth, but he did say the big problem in 2010 was that with the new European deal, they were $5 million worse off and that over 5 or 6 years, that creates a problem. $5 million a year is 25% of $20 million. Perhaps one could argue this is all due to timing and the 25% decline is due to the economy and not the sport's popularity, but the sport suffering because of problems in Europe is not a good sign.

That being said, Davies did say they were pleased with the television ratings and presented a positive picture with the way things were going in Europe with the signing of new deals for various countries recently and getting the sport on over the air on Channel 4 in Britain. Plus, the TV deals seem to have minimum payments with possibly increases to revenue but not decreases.

2) The 2011 Qualifying Standards for Worlds were announced. The big news is the qualifying window for events less than 10k is now less than a year. The qualifying window now starts on October 1 of the previous year for all events except for the 10k, marathon, walks, relays and multi events, which starts on January 1. Plus, the men's 10k and 1,500m standards are harder to make. More info on this here.

3) The IAAF is still working on coming up for guidelines on the gender issue (aka the Caster Semenya issue). The plan is for the guidelines to be in force by May 1, 2011.

4) The Netherlands Antilles is no longer a territory and now is part of the Netherlands. Who cares? Well, it means that Churandy Martina, the dude who stepped on the line in the 200m in Beijing, now has to run for a new country.

That's it from Monaco on Friday.

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