The Athletics Association Representative Group Off The Blocks As The Swimmers’ Alliance Plans Graduate Class

The Athletics Association Got Off the Blocks today as the independent voice of Track and Field athletes who want their views heard at the top table of governance in the way The Swimmers' Alliance does too - Photo Courtesy - Patrick B. Kraemer (main image)

Track and Field athletes today launched The Athletics Association (TAA), an independent body that will provide international representation for athletes of the kind that The Swimmers’ Alliance, led by Olympic legend Matt Biondi, is aiming to provide for swimmers.

On its fledgling website, TAA – sub-titled ‘We Are The Sport’, which is used as the group’s twitter name – sets out its mission to have a say in the global decision-making process in Track and Field:

“An independent body that will protect and advance the future of Athletics by unifying and defending the voice of elite Track and Field athletes worldwide – ensuring that they are at the heart of the decision-making process.”

Global Athlete, the athlete-representative organisation, was “thrilled” by the arrival of the TAA, stating:

“Global Athlete continually advocates for independent athlete associations that are developed by athletes, for athletes. Today’s announcement is an important step forward for Track and Field athletes, but also an important message to athletes in other sports- that collectively working together to place athletes’ interest first is the way of the future.”

The Swimmers’ Alliance will play a role on the International Swimming League’s five-week “Solidarity Camp” should the COVID-19 pandemic allow that to unfold from late October into November this year. Founder and funder of the League, Konstantin Grigorishin spoke to Swimming World recently about the educational service the camp would provide to swimmers in between training and racing, with labour relations and financial planning experts among those set to guide athletes on what it means to be “professional” in sport.

Other coverage related to The Swimmers’ Alliance:


Matt Biondi, the director of the Athletes’ Union, with Adam Peaty in London – Photo Courtesy: Craig Lord

Athlete representation in Olympic sport is nothing new, as we noted yesterday in our feature marking the 60th anniversary of Donna de Varona’s first World 400m medley record in 1960. De Varona, the 1964 Olympic champion, was among pioneers who pressed the International Olympic Committee to form an Athletes’ Committee.

In recent times, however, athletes have pointed to a lack of connection between themselves and IOC in-house picks for athlete representation, which has often been perceived to represent the views of Olympic and international federation bosses not the views of athletes when it comes to some of the most challenging of issues, including Fair Play for Fair Play, anti-doping and image rights.

The head of The Swimmers’ Alliance, Biondi met a wave of current and fellow Olympic champions and podium placers at the London round of the International Swimming League last year as part of preparations to  build independent representation for swimmers at international and domestic level.

Now, Track and Field athletes – in a sport governed by World Athletics (former IAAF) in a structure that includes an independent Athletics Integrity Unity, have launched The Athletics Association with the aim of providing athletes with “a meaningful voice, to fight for stronger athletes’ rights and embrace an athletes-first approach, all of which are critical to athlete safety and wellbeing”.

The Athletics Association launch statement:

16 July 2020 – Today marks the formal launch of The Athletics Association, an independent organization established for athletes, by athletes.

Formed in response to the calls from athletes worldwide for independent representation, the objective of The Athletics Association is to provide Track and Field athletes with a meaningful voice, to fight for stronger athletes’ rights, and to seek an athletes first approach to our sport.

The Athletics Association aims to engage in positive dialogue with the sport’s governing body, World Athletics, and their own athletes’ commission, but will of course hold World Athletics to account when necessary and challenge them if they are not acting in the best interest of the athletes.

The non-profit Athletics Association has been busy developing a number of support services and member benefits for athletes, including a hardship grant fund, training courses, and discounts on products. Details of the full annual membership package will be announced ahead of the full roll-out in January 2021.

The Athletics Association initial objectives:

1 – Lobby World Athletics and the Diamond League stakeholders regarding the changes to the Diamond League schedule that were announced for 2020. We will offer suggestions and alternatives that would include all stadium disciplines, and would benefit athletes and fans, as well as the long term interests of this diverse and wonderful sport.

2 – Gain a seat at the table with World Athletics to command real involvement and power when it comes to decision-making in the sport, as we look to amplify the voices of our members and athletes all over the world.

3 – Announce the Athletics Association’s welfare charter, highlighting our commitment to improving the conditions for athletes across a range of issues.

4 – Solidify our membership package that will begin in January 2021 and will offer access to courses on issues such as financial literacy and life after Athletics, and also discounts on products.

5 – Present World Athletics with innovative ideas for the growth of the sport.

The collective has launched with two-time Olympic and four-time World champion, Christian Taylor, as the inaugural president “I am very proud of the progress made by the members of the Athletics Association Board. Since its initial inception a lot of work has been put in to establish the right governance and long-term viability that is essential to do justice to the athletes we represent. It’s this that has attracted the commitment and support of the athletes on the Board. We have athletes from every continent, and a wide variety of disciplines; we are made up of Olympic and World champions, as well as world record holders and continental champions. “

“In addition to the board members, there are so many other athletes who have helped get us to this stage. World Athletics recently published a strategic plan, and athletes have been identified as key stakeholders. The Athletics Association provides a representative voice and a simple way for the sport’s governing body to follow through on their commitment. We are ready to contribute to the growth of the sport that we love, ensuring that athletes are part of the decision-making process.  This association is for the athletes, by the athletes, and we are determined to make a real difference. We firmly believe that we can affect positive change in our sport. We are ready for the challenge.”

The Athletics Association has also agreed to a strategic partnership with Global Athlete, a progressive athlete start-up movement aiming to inspire greater athlete representation in organisations across the world of sport. The partnership brings together two organisations with similar values to collaborate on projects, share insights and drive change that will ultimately benefit the athletes and the sport.

“Global Athlete is proud to be a partner with the Athletics Association. Establishing an independent association is a critical step in enhancing athletes’ rights. It is so important for athletes to have their own representation” said Rob Koehler, Global Athlete Director General.

“The sport of athletics needs to find a new and exciting path for success. This success can only be possible with real meaningful athlete engagement. Athletes have the desire to further grow the sport while at the same time ensuring the utmost care is given to athletes’ rights. Together we are stronger.” said Emma Coburn, The Athletics Association Vice-President.

The Athletics Association structure:

The Athletics Association Board is made up of representatives from every continent and comprises 24 athletes, including individual global champions: Christian Taylor (President) Emma Coburn (Vice-President), Allyson Felix, Ashton Eaton, Julius Yego, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Shaunae Miller-Uibo, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Tianna Bartoletta and Tom Walsh.

To see all the board members and their roles please visit our brand new website and sign up and register to receive up-to-date information.

For further details please email

Representation In Swimming


Photo Courtesy: FINA

FINA, swimming’s global governing body, which an in-house Athlete’s Commission, has yet to ditch its in-house Ethics Panel and rules that grant FINA leaders the right to say which complaints and issues end up before the Panel in favour of an independent Integrity Unit of the kind recommended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The opening line describing the Ethics Panel on the FINA website highlights the lack of independence with these words:

“The Ethics Panel shall consist of six members elected by the General Congress for a term of 4 years on a proposal of the Bureau. The President shall appoint the chairperson of the Ethics Panel from amongst its members.”

The Swimmers’ Alliance will seek direct representation for swimmers at the top table of governance of their sport.

Global Athlete has already committed to working together with the Athletics Association and, it noted in a statement today:

“… fully supports the need for athletes to be represented by a new independent model. Sport needs to be held accountable for decisions, but more importantly needs to place athletes’ rights first in all decisions.”


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