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World Athletics will introduce a centralised licensing system for Athletes’ Representatives from 1 September 2023 after the regulatory framework was approved by the World Athletics Council this week.
The new system will set global minimum standards for becoming an Athletes’ Representative (AR) and maintaining a licence to act on behalf of athletes for any competition.
Under the new system, Member Federations (MFs) will not be permitted to regulate World Athletics ARs or charge any fees to them. If MFs wish to implement a framework to regulate ARs, they will only be permitted to regulate matters falling within their national jurisdiction but must meet the minimum standards of the World Athletics framework.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “We have consulted with ARs and athletes around the current system, examining the practical realities faced by ARs and athletes working within the global athletics market and we believe a centralised system which sets minimum professional standards and provides ongoing professional development will lead to a better outcome for both athletes and agents.”
The new rules will introduce eligibility criteria to become an AR, which will apply equally on a global basis. Individuals who apply will be subject to a vetting and exam process.
The vetting requirements will be similar to those required to become a World Athletics official, but will also include specific requirements related to the duties of an AR. A new World Athletics Athletes’ Representative Panel will conduct the vetting.
The AR exam will contain essential subjects for acting as a sports agent including ethical compliance and safeguarding.
To maintain a licence an AR must pay an annual licence fee (to cover costs incurred by World Athletics), maintain professional indemnity insurance, and complete a minimum amount of continuing professional development.
World Athletics will establish an online portal to facilitate the licensing process and also plans to provide education to athletes on matters such as the meaning of their contracts, appropriate levels of payment/commissions and introductory information for emerging athletes on becoming an elite athlete.
The maximum amount of time that an athlete and AR may enter into an agreement will be two years, which can be extended for one-year periods. Athletes are also allowed to represent themselves.
The World Athletics Council also approved new Safeguarding Rules to guard against abuse, harassment or exploitation by World Athletics officials or which may occur at a World Athletics Series event or Congress. In exceptional cases, these rules will also apply to MF officials.
These new Rules give World Athletics the power to make orders imposing safeguards, limitations and restrictions on certain individuals, in order for World Athletics to ensure that safe, happy and positive environments are created for everyone involved in athletics and that all involved are treated with dignity and respect.
An independent Case Management Group will be appointed to make decisions in relation to safeguarding concerns which are investigated by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
The role of the Case Management Group will be to review investigations by the AIU, assess risk and make orders relating to safeguards, limitations, restrictions, sanctions and other matters.
MFs and Area Associations must comply with the World Athletics Safeguarding Policy.
MFs are responsible for managing reports of abuse, harassment and exploitation in their own countries and dealing with safeguarding concerns relating to MF officials, athletes and athlete supporting personnel under their jurisdiction. All MFs are required to adopt and implement procedures for the investigation and prosecution of reported safeguarding concerns in their territories.
Area Associations are responsible for managing reports relating to their staff, officials or volunteers, accredited persons at their events and competitions and participants in activities hosted at Area Development Centres.
The AIU Board will have absolute discretion to decide whether to pursue a matter, taking into account the seriousness of the conduct in question and the other circumstances of the case.
As part of World Athletics’ Human Rights Strategy, human rights considerations have been rolled into the Safeguarding Essentials E-Learning course, which is now available on the World Athletics website.
The focus of the course is to prevent abuse, harassment and exploitation of everyone in athletics, however their involvement and whatever their age.
Furthermore, the appointment process for the new Executive Board and the Risk Committee references human rights expertise as one of the desired qualifications of nominees, and the new Board and new Committee will review the need for other human rights considerations to be included in their terms of reference.
Human rights considerations will also continue to be factored into amendments to new rules and regulations. A report on human rights has been included in the Annual Council Report which will be presented to the World Athletics Congress this week.