I just received yesterday another piece of correspondence from the Ethics Panel. I felt that I had to share it, because it is very interesting that the IOF Ethics Panel knows that they have no right to investigate journalistic activity, yet they intend to do so.
In fact, the letter suggests that in their interpretation almost anybody who ever attended a larger orienteering event may get investigated by the IOF Ethics Panel for anything the Panel wants to investigate them for the rest of their life.
The key point above is that the Ethics Panel is fully aware that they have no right, whatsoever, under Swedish law to investigate journalistic activities, including this blog.
The IOF is registered in Sweden, hence it should adhere to the laws of Sweden. Under the Rule of Law, lower level rules of an organisation may not override national laws.
Yet, the IOF Code of Ethics is worded so broadly and so vaguely, that it gives the Ethics Panel the opportunity for a very broad interpretation to claim the power to investigate almost everybody who was ever involved in orienteering for anything they wish for. You may read the full Code here.
Here is Section 1 that was referred to in the letter
THE IOF CODE OF ETHICS
1 Persons and Organizations Subject to this IOF Code of Ethics
This IOF Code of Ethics (hereinafter referred to as “the Code”) applies to all federations (members or provisional members) and all elected, appointed or contracted IOF employees, functionaries, volunteers and organizing committees for IOF events and their officials and volunteers. The Code also applies to officials and volunteers at IOF- sanctioned member events, athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors, team staff, team officials, all other persons claiming or seeking standing as present or prospective participants in any IOF activity. The Code also applies to and persons without status or title who engage in any activity in relation to the IOF that is covered by this Code.
I underlined above the ones who fall under the Code. All athletes, team staff, organisers. No surprise there. The last one is the real fascinating one: “persons without status or title who engage in any activity in relation to the IOF that is covered by this Code”. The Code does not specify what are the activities that are covered, hence there is only one interpretation left: any activity in relation to the IOF.
Apparently, if you were involved in any IOF event you are subject to the Code according to the Ethics Panel interpretation. It does not matter whether you attended as an athlete, coach, organiser, or a just as a spectator. If you consider that not only major events, but also World Ranking Events are IOF events, then it gets really broad. If you attended the 2018 Trail-O WRE in Egypt as a spectator, you are subject to the Code. If you helped out with the parking on the South American Orienteering Championships in Uruguay, you are subject to the Code. If you ran on any event in Sweden where the elite was a WRE race, you are subject to the Code.
The Ethics Panel in their letter made it absolutely clear that in their view the Code gives them power not only above the laws, but they can investigate anybody for the rest of their life if they were ever subject to the Code:
“once you participate in the IOF activities, you consent to being bound by these internal regulations. Therefore, the Ethics Panel has the power given to it by the IOF Code of Ethics to conduct an inquiry.”
I duly informed about this situation the leadership of the IOF who are responsible for the legal compliance of IOF operations, especially compliance with the laws of Sweden where the IOF is registered. I trust they all agree that we shall do our best to keep the IOF a law abiding, transparent and scandal free organisation.