From the 1980s to the end of the 20th century

1996 - Marie Jose Perec holds off Cathy Freeman over 400m in Atlanta

1980  The Moscow Olympic Games are boycotted by 65 countries, led by the USA, in protest at the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, but still feature six world records - including Gerd Wessig (GDR) clearing 2.36m in the high jump and Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz (POL) winning the pole vault gold with 5.78m – and a record number of spectators.

1980  The IAAF Council form an ‘Amateurism Working Group’ in reaction to proposals from members to change the constitution regarding amateurism.

1980  The IAAF Congress approve the inclusion of the women’s marathon for the forthcoming IAAF World Championships, but reject the 5000m or 10,000m for women.

1980  The IAAF stage separate world championship events for the women’s 3000m and 400m hurdles. The IAAF Council chooses Helsinki over Stuttgart to be hosts of the first World Championships in 1983.

1981  Ethiopia and Kenya enter the World Cross Country Championships for the first time, with Ethiopia taking the men’s team title.

1981  Primo Nebiolo (ITA) is elected unopposed as the IAAF President at the IAAF Congress in Rome, where the concept of Trust Funds for athletes is approved in principle.

1982  Chariots of Fire, a British film about the 1924 Olympic champions Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, wins four Oscars, including one for Best Film.

1982  Association of International Marathons and Distance Races (AIMS) is formed in London with its primary objective being to foster and promote distance running.

1982  The IAAF Congress in Athens sees he introduction of the IAAF Permit Meeting, provision for Athlete’s Funds (under the supervision of their national federation), and the introduction of an Arbitration Panel to adjudicate in case of disputes within the IAAF.

1982 The IOC Executive Committee approves the reinstatement of gold medals to Jim Thorpe, the original 1912 Olympic champion at the pentathlon and decathlon.

1983  Kipkemboi Kimeli becomes the first Kenyan to win at the World Cross Country Championships with his victory in the junior race in Gateshead, Great Britain.

1983  The inaugural IAAF World Championships are staged in Helsinki with 1355 athletes from 153 countries, with their travel expenses paid by the IAAF as well as 12 days accommodation. Carl Lewis (USA) wins three gold medals and Tiina Liilak (FIN) dramatically wins the javelin throw in front of her home crowed. Nine-time New York Marathon winner and five-time world cross country champion Grete Waitz (NOR) wins the inaugural women’s marathon to be contested at a global championships.

1983  The IAAF Council insist that all future world record applications will only be ratified subject to a negative doping control test.

1984  Carl Lewis (USA) wins four gold medals at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, which are boycotted by 14 Soviet bloc countries, yet the athletics competition still attract more countries (124) than at any previous Games.

1984  The 10,000m and 10km race walk for women is approved for addition to the IAAF World Championships programme of events.

1984  The IAAF Congress approves the start of the IAAF/Mobil Grand Prix circuit from 1985, introduces compulsory disqualification for running out of lane, and rules that the middle lanes at championships are allotted to the best qualifiers from preliminary rounds at distances up to 800m.

1984  IAAF Congress approved the recommendation of the IAAF Technical Committee, which followed extensive testing in Finland in 1982 & 1983, to shift the centre of gravity of the men’s javelin (800g) by 4cm to guarantee the javelin landing point first.

1985  The IAAF World Indoor Games are staged in Paris at just five months’ notice. President Nebiolo concludes, “that the IAAF has correctly understood the need for this new competition.”

1985  The IAAF World Athletics Series and IAAF/Mobil Grand Prix begin, with a total of $542,000 on offer for the latter at the final in Rome.

1985  Sergey Bubka (URS/UKR) – now the World Athletics Senior Vice President – becomes the first man to vault 6.00m when he clears this height in Paris.

1985  The first IAAF Regional Development Centre is established at the Indian National Institute of Sport, Patiala.

1986  The first IAAF World Junior (now U20) Championships are staged in Athens with 1188 athletes from 143 countries.

1986  The International Athletic Foundation (IAF) is established to charitably assist the IAAF in the development and promotion of worldwide athletics.

1986  The first World Athletics Gala is staged by the IAF at The Hotel de Paris, Monte Carlo. ‘Gold Star of Athletics’ awards are presented to all those athletes setting world records in 1986.

1987  The first official IAAF World Indoor Championships are held in Indianapolis, USA, with 402 athletes from 84 countries participating. Five new world indoor records are set.

1987  The first list of IAAF world indoor records is approved, including marks by Sebastian Coe (GBR), Sergey Bubka (URS) and Carl Lewis (USA)

1987  The 75th anniversary of the IAAF is marked by a multi-media exhibition in Rome entitled ‘100 Golden Moments’.

1987  The IAAF Congress supports the introduction of a one-member, one-vote system in place of the previous decision-making procedure in which the traditional nations of the sport had additional voting powers.

1987  The second IAAF World Championships in Rome are highlighted by world records in the 100m and high jump within 10 minutes by Ben Johnson (CAN) and Stefka Kostadinova (BUL), although Johnson’s mark is later annulled after he admitted to drug taking.

1988  The Seoul Olympic Games in Seoul sees Florence Griffith Joyner (USA) win three sprint golds medals and ‘Flo-Jo’ sets a 200m world record of 21.34, which still stands, while her sister-in-law Jackie Joyner-Kersee (USA) shatters the world heptathlon record with 7291 points and also wins the long jump.

1988  Carl Lewis and Florence Griffith Joyner are voted the inaugural World Athletes of the Year.

1989  A junior (U20) women’s race is added to the programme of the World Cross Country Championships.

1989  The women’s triple jump is accepted by the IAAF as a world record event.

1989  The IAAF rules change to enable out-of-competition random doping control testing from 1990.

1990  The first Oceanian Athletics Championships are staged in Suva (FIJ).

1991  The third IAAF World Championships in Tokyo are highlighted by a thrilling long jump contest between Mike Powell and Carl Lewis (both USA), which is won by Powell with a new world record of 8.95m. Lewis also sets world records in the 100m and 4x100m.

1991  The suspension period for serious doping violation increases from two to four years.  

1991  The IAAF decide to stage World Championships every two years, starting in 1993.

1992  Membership of the IAAF climbs to 200 following the admission of 12 ex-Soviet Union states and the provisional membership  South Africa.

1992  The first IAAF World Road Relay and World Half Marathon Championships are staged at Funchal, Portugal and Tyneside, Great Britain respectively.

1992  At the Barcelona Olympic Games, South Africa return to a major global championships, Kevin Young becomes the first man to break 47 seconds for the 400m hurdles with a world record 46.78 while Kenya wins all three men’s steeplechase medals for the first time at an Olympics.

1992  IAAF Advertising Rules and Regulations are introduced.

1993  The start of the Golden Four series, involving Oslo (Bislett Games), Zurich (Weltklasse), Brussels (Memorial Van Damme) and Berlin (ISTAF). With a prize of 20kg of gold divided between those who could win their specialist event at all four meetings this series is the forerunner of the Wanda Diamond League. The first blood sample doping controls are conducted at these meetings.

1993  The IAAF Congress votes to move the IAAF Headquarters from London to Monaco.

1993  At the first IAAF World Championships in a biennial sequence at Stuttgart, winners receive a Mercedes car worth $30,000. The women’s 100m title is decided by 0.001 as Gail Devers (USA) beats Merlene Ottey (JAM) 10.811 to 10.812. Colin Jackson and Sally Gunnell (both GBR) set world records of 12.91 and 52.74 in the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles, respectively.

1993  The total money awarded at the IAAF / Mobil Grand Prix is tripled to $2.3 million.

1993  At the Chinese National Games in Beijing, five world records are set in distance running by women including amazing new marks over 3000m and 10,000m by 20-year-old Wang Junxia.

1994  Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) becomes the first Ethiopian to set a world record with a time of 12:56.96 for 5000m in Hengelo.

1994 At the mountain resort of Sestriere in Italy, pole vaulter Sergey Bubka (UKR) sets his 35th and final world best performance of 6.14m and wins a $250,000 Ferrari in the process.

1995  The women’s pole vault and hammer throw become official IAAF world record events.

1995  Nawal El Moutawakel (MAR) and Abby Hoffman (CAN) become the first female members of the IAAF Council.

1995  The IAAF World Championships in Gothenburg feature four world records including two consecutive triple jump marks by Jonathan Edwards (GBR), 18.16m and then 18.29m. The championships are the first to have live results posted on the internet.

1996  With the addition of the women’s pole vault, the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Stockholm is the first major championships where the programme of women’s events is the same as the men.

1996  The first IAAF World Athletics Day of competitions is staged, aiming at developing enthusiasm and passion among young athletes. A total of 12 boys and 12 girls win an all-expenses trip to the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games

1996  In conjunction with the IAAF World Athletics Day, the IAAF website – now – is launched with nine sections across 2100 pages.

1996  Athletics proves to be the most popular sport at the centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, with more than a million tickets sold. Carl Lewis (USA) wins a fourth successive long jump gold medal, and both Michael Johnson (USA) and Marie-José Pérec (FRA) win 200m/400m doubles, Johnson winning his shorter event in a world record 19.32.

1996  The IAAF Council agrees that in 1997-1999, competition awards are to be made available to the top three athletes at the IAAF’s World Athletics Series events. The total on offer from the three-year package is $19 million. The prize money is available only to athletes who have been subjected to prior out of competition testing for banned substances.

1997  Prize money – with $50,000 for a win – is paid out for the first time in a world championships at the World Indoor Championships in Paris. Wilson Kipketer (DEN) claims a further $50,000 after he breaks the world indoor 800m record in both his heat and final.

1997  Donovan Bailey (CAN) becomes the first athlete to win a prize of $1 million with his defeat of Michael Johnson (USA) in their ‘One To One Challenge’ over 150m in Toronto’s Sky Dome.

1997  At Hechtel in Belgium, Daniel Komen (KEN) becomes the first man to run two miles in less than eight minutes, with his 7:58.61 comprising halves of 3:59.2 and 3:59.5.

1997  The IAAF hymn, composed by the famous Greek musician Vangelis, is performed for the first time at the opening ceremony of the IAAF World Championships in Athens. ‘Wildcard entries’ are introduced for defending champions and free televised news coverage of the championships is distributed by the IAAF.

1997  The IAAF introduce a ‘whereabouts’ information programme where, for the purpose of out-of-competition drug testing, the location of athletes is provided in advance.

1997  The first IAAF High Performance Training Centre (HPTC) is opened in Dakar, Senegal.

1998  The Year of Women in Athletics is declared by the IAAF.

1998  Short course races are added to the programme of the World Cross Country Championships.

1998  The start of the IAAF Golden League with a jackpot prize of US $1 million to be shared between any athletes winning their Golden League event in each of the six meetings (Oslo, Rome, Monaco, Zurich, Brussels and Berlin) as well as in the IAAF Golden League/Grand Prix Final.

1998  The IAAF changes its rules so that in long throwing events, distances are to be rescored to the nearest single centimetre below the distance thrown. Previously all such measurements were only recorded to the nearest lower even centimetre.

1998  Introduction of the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge.

1999  The IAAF Congress agree that the centre of gravity of the women’s javelin is moved three centimetres closer to the tip of the implement, in order to reduce the number of flat throws.

1999  The first IAAF World Youth (now U18) Championships are staged in Bydgoszcz, Poland, with 1055 athletes from 131 countries.

1999  The IAAF World Championships are staged in a custom-built stadium in Seville, attended by 200 countries and watched by more than 400 million television viewers in Europe alone. At the age of 31, Michael Johnson (USA) finally breaks the 400m world record fwith a time of 43.18.

1999  Primo Nebiolo (ITA) is re-elected as IAAF President for the fifth time, but passes away later in the year, leaving Lamine Diack (SEN) to be confirmed as Acting President.

1999  A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is established to bring consistency to anti-doping policies and regulations within sport organisations and governments across the world.

1999  Carl Lewis (USA) and Fanny Blankers-Koen (NED) are named by the IAAF as their Athletes of the Century.