Berlin - A new false start rule is a top item on the agenda of the congress of the ruling athletics body IAAF, while former star athletes will work behind the scenes to enhance their chances of presiding over the powerful body in the future. Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergey Bubka, British middle distance ace Sebastian Coe and Moroccan hurdler Nawal El Moutawakil are said to be vying for what is one of the most powerful jobs in world sport, currently occupied by Senegal’s Lamine Diack.
Delegates from the 212 IAAF member states meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Berlin ahead of the world championships which start on Saturday.
Also on the agenda is a traditional pre-worlds joint meeting of the IAAF council and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board, on Friday.
Diack, 76, has presided over the IAAF since 1999. The next presidential election is set for 2011. There is speculation that he may stay on for another year to oversee the IAAF centenary celebrations in 2012.
Diack appears to favour his senior vice-president Bubka, and Coe may find only limited time for a campaign as he will be fully occupied as organizing committee head for the 2012 London Olympics.
However, El Moutawakil can not be counted out. She would be the first woman at the top if the IAAF which would send a strong signal. The 1984 Olympic champion is an influential IOC member and head of the important IOC evaluation committee for the 2016 Games.
“She has a strong position in the IOC,” said IAAF vice-president Helmut Digel of Germany.
Diack’s successor will have a full agenda to maintain the appeal of the number one Olympic sport.
One step in that direction is a no false start rule, which similar to the swimming rule allows no false start. Currently a runner who commits a second false start is disqualified.
"I am absolutely in favour of the ‘no (false) start’ rule. I felt that the current rule gives sprinters the chance to play the system - to deliberately false start but not be punished for it. This proposal now makes things very clear and fair. [WHO SAYS THIS? DIACK? kk]
Diack also said that modernization such as more compact competition formats is necessary because "without it the sport will lose relevance and fade away.
“We must be constantly thinking of making changes, when these changes are for the better and make the sport more attractive, especially for a younger generation.”
Other issues of the congress include a change of the cross-country worlds format from an annual event to staging it every two years. The Pacific island state of Tuvalu is to be formally accepted as the 213th IAAF member.