More questions on IOF Anti-Doping activity

I did not plan to write about anti-doping questions for while after my post last September. There are many other interesting topics that I could not find time for. But I had to look into this topic again after my post was reported by the IOF to the Ethics Panel and an IOF ethics investigation started.

The sad news is that after scratching just the surface for information on IOF AD activity, a set of new questions popped up again. In this post I would like to share with you three observations that do not require any understanding of anti-doping activities to raise interesting questions.

  • There are discrepancies between IOF AD numbers in different publications, and numbers for different years were apparently calculated according to different methodology. This is not a problem until you try to make sense of the numbers. If you try, you may get somewhat confused. 
  • No information on the IOF’s 2018 AD activities as of 12 April 2019.
    The 2016 IOF AD report was published in December 2016. The 2017 report was published on 1 January 2018. Normally this delay of the 2018 AD numbers would look strange. After the IOF has reported this blog for writing about an apparent drop in AD tests in 2018, this becomes very interesting.
  • In January 2019 the IOF Council minutes stated the IOF AD Fund “had not been completely used during 2018” due to fewer tests. Yet, the IOF Ethics Panel is investigating this blog for a post that discussed the impression that fewer tests were done and less money was spent on AD than collected for the “AD Fund”.

Did the IOF forget to inform the Ethics Panel that the questions this blog raised, in fact, had some basis? Or does the IOF think that asking questions about IOF AD activities is an ethical offence on its own?

I am sure that there is a good explanation for all the questions that may arise when one looks at these data. Unfortunately, they are far from being obvious. One may be forgiven to think that IOF AD reports are a bit of a mess, and that may even dampen trust in them.

I realise that this post may result in another IOF Ethics Panel investigation for highlighting more discrepancies in AD numbers and asking more questions about the IOF Anti-Doping activity. All I can bring up in my defence is a cruel upbringing when I was regularly punished for not noticing discrepancies between numbers and not asking questions about the reasons of said discrepancies.

But now let’s look into the details.

Discrepancy between IOF AD numbers

The last publication on AD activities was published more than 15 months ago on 1 January 2018 on the IOF website. It was titled “Anti-Doping – increasing number of tests” but at other places it was also referred to as the IOF Anti-Doping Report 2017. It includes a chart and a table with AD sample numbers. IC stands for in-competition, OOC for out-of-competition tests.

IOF AD numbers 2015-17 marked

2016 ADAMS AD numbers - IOF AD report 2017 marked

There was also a presentation given by the IOF in connection with the General Assembly 2018. It also showed numbers of AD samples, but some of them was different than the ones published 9 months earlier in the IOF Anti-Doping Report 2017.

GA 2018 IOF presentation - totals marked

 

Interesting, isn’t it?

Continue reading “More questions on IOF Anti-Doping activity”

IOF Ethics Panel Trumps Law?

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.

Ethics Panel email - blanked - 9 April 2019

 

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

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.

Ethics Panel investigation continues into “IOF Anti-Doping activity questions”

I just wanted to give you an update on this Ethics Panel investigation. Below you may find the most detailed description of the matter received so far. I also share some interesting observations about its lack of specifics, its timing, and the apparent lack of any legal ground for an Ethical Panel investigation into an article (blog post) published in (social) media.

Yet, we shall welcome the interest of the Ethics Panel into the financial and managerial practices of the IOF. A more active involvement of the Panel may help to improve the workings of the IOF to avoid even the possibility of ethical and financial scandals that marred so many international sport organisations from FIFA through IBU to the IOC.

The issues

The following reply was received from the Chair of the Ethics Panel on 8 March 2019 to my email sent on 28 February.

Ethics Panel letter 8 March 2019 - p1

Ethics Panel letter 8 March 2019 - p2

The 2016 version of the IOF Code of Ethics was also attached as the one in force when the post was published. You may read it here: IOF Code-of-Ethics – 2016.

For simplicity I will refer to the plaintiff as “IOF” not to disclose the person who submitted the report to the Ethics Panel.

Before getting into details below, I have to address the question about transparency under Section 7 in the letter of the Chair of the Ethics Panel. In my email on 2 April I asked him if he could provide any rules that would support his position on transparency.

“Finally, I am wondering if you could point to any rule – other than general privacy and protection of personal data – that would prohibit sharing the developments of this procedure with the readers of my blog. I could not find anything in the IOF Code of Ethics or any other IOF document. Based on the nulla poena sine lege principle I will keep posting updates on my blog with your kind understanding, unless you can point to a rule that would explicitly forbid that.”

In his reply on 3 April the Chair made no comment on this request, and I received no further correspondence. This suggests that there is no such rule that would prohibit making this procedure a transparent one.

The very point of this blog is to show everybody interested the way the IOF works, particularly when it comes to culture, strategy and finances. Ethics and transparency are part of this picture, as discussed earlier.

So let’s see the details below.

Continue reading “Ethics Panel investigation continues into “IOF Anti-Doping activity questions””

Ethics Panel investigates “IOF Anti-Doping activity questions”

On 24 February Sunday evening I received an email from Bob Dredge, the Chair of the IOF Ethics Panel informing me about an Ethical Panel procedure related to my blog post on IOF Anti-Doping activity questions published on 25 September 2018.

For the avoidance of misunderstanding, it should be clearly stated that the subject of the Ethics Panel procedure was not the IOF’s Anti-Doping activity. Nor were there any issues raised around the facts and data mentioned in the blog post. The Ethics Panel is considering if any breach of the IOFs Code of Ethics has resulted from certain not specified comments.

Before reading on I would like to encourage you to read the original post as linked above. If you do not have time for the 1350 or so words and 5 charts, you may want to know that essence of the post is as follows: There appeared to be a drop in IOF AD testing in 2018 compared to previous years. This was shown for MTBO, but anecdotal evidence from elite runners suggested a similar trend in Foot-O. Yet, there was more money collected for the IOF AD fund from MTBO organisers in addition to the athletes’ licence fee collected. As a result, the implied cost of the MTBO AD tests skyrocketed over the past 3 years as shown on the chart below. This has raised unavoidable questions whether AD tests got so much more expensive, whether part of the AD fund was spent on other purposes by the IOF than AD testing, and whether there will be member federations who would ask questions about this.

implied cost - IOF AD tests

Nobody should take an IOF Ethics Panel procedure lightly. After all, the Ethics Panel may impose sanctions for violations of the IOF Code of Ethics that include exclusion for life from competitions and/or IOF activities, an appropriate fine, or removal of any previously obtained honours, or any other appropriate sanction that the Hearing Panel decides (with no stated limit to what that could be).

This may sound quite scary for many. After all, nobody enjoys being the subject of a legal procedure. Yet, you may become curious about the whole experience, if you are a bit like Desperaux the brave little mouse, who failed to learn in school that there are so many wonderful things in life to be afraid of, if you just learn how scary they are. Add to this that the flavour of our times is to share our experiences on social media for the edification of others, and my belief that transparency is  critically important to amateur sports organisations like the IOF. All this made me decide to share this experience on this blog.

Below you can read the original letter received from the Chair of the IOF Ethics Panel, some of the key questions related to his email that made me scratch my head, and my reply to the letter of the Chair.

Continue reading “Ethics Panel investigates “IOF Anti-Doping activity questions””

Profit or Not?

“Marx was right” I was murmuring to myself when I read the Minutes of the 2018 IOF General Assembly. It was Karl Marx who stated in Die Deutsche Ideologie (1845) as part of his criticism of the Hegelian idealism, that Nicht das Bewußtsein bestimmt das Leben, sondern das Leben bestimmt das Bewußtsein.”  That is, “It is not Consciousness that determines Life, but Life determines Consciousness.”

In the Congress binder of the 2018 IOF General Assembly it was shown that the 2016-18 period the IOF made no profit. In the minutes of the GA it was stated that the IOF’s financial status has been stabilised, and after all, the IOF is a non-profit organisation and the goal is not to make significant profit. This appeared to be in stark contrast with the over €300,000 profit plans presented to the GA 2 years earlier in the 2016 Congress binder for the same period by the same leadership, and the statement that the surplus was required to strengthen the IOF’s financial position. Apparently changes in life changed the thinking of the IOF leadership.

The planned and expected profit figures of total profit for the 2016 – 2018 period are shown below. You may find more details in my previous post IOF Financials – the past is dark, the future is unclear.

iof total profit 2016-2018

 

In the Minutes of the 2016 General Assembly under Section 15.2 “Membership fees and budget for the years 2017–2018” it was stated that

Leho Haldna presented Council’s proposal for the budget for the fiscal years 2017 and 2018.

LAT requested information about how the planned surplus in the budget was to be used, and also asked where the proposed increase in development funding was shown in the budget.

TH [Tom Hollowell] responded that the IOF’s capital and reserves should be strengthened and that the surplus was primarily intended for this purpose.

In stark contrast, under Section 10 in the Minutes of the 2018 General Assembly, under “Report by the Council on the activities of the IOF since the last Ordinary General Assembly”, it reads that

President Leho Haldna (LH) presented the report on the activities of the IOF in the period since the previous General Assembly in 2016 […]

The report also included how the IOF’s financial status had been stabilised during the last congress period. LH wished to make the statement that the IOF is a non-profit organisation, and that the goal was not to make significant profit, but that these funds should always be reinvested into the activities of the organisation.

For the uninitiated the above views of the IOF leadership only two years apart may sound like contradictory to each other. For the avoidance of doubt, one may find that the reason for the significant shortfall in the delivered profit was not reinvesting in activities, but the IOF’s inability to deliver the sponsorship and other external income as planned by the IOF leadership. Although there appears to be some inconsistency across various representations of IOF budgets, forecasts and accounts, my best estimate is as follows:

 

iof sponsorship income 2016-18

What is clear, is that in the beginning of 2016 the capital and reserves of the IOF stood at €114,630. In August 2016 the IOF leadership believed that an extra €300,000 addition was required for the capital and reserves of the IOF to ensure stability. After two years there were virtually no funds added to the reserves. Yet, the IOF leadership declared that the IOF’s financial status had been stabilised. Either a financial miracle happened, or Marx was right and changes in life changed the thinking of the IOF leadership.

It is also notable, that the realisation of 2018 that the IOF is a non-profit organisation came only two years after the largest annual profits were planned in the IOF’s history.

Ten years underperformance - Sept 2018

 

What has changed? Apparently, nothing more than Life made the IOF leadership realise that they could not deliver the fantastic profits they dreamt up.

We have to bow to the wisdom of Karl Marx.

The Value of Athletes

I was approached by different athletes suggesting that the picture below would worth a post. It shows the podium of the 2018 World Cup series. If you zoom in, you can see the prize money given by the IOF to the top FootO athletes of 2018. €100 for 6th place overall, €200 for 5th, €300 for 4th and €400 for 3rd. Tove and Karolin were smart enough to cover up the reputation damaging sums of €1000 and €500 given for their outstanding performance through 2018.

world cup podium 2018

It just does not look right. It is simply shameful, as one athlete said. Even no prize money would work better than showing these sums to the world.

For comparison, here are some numbers for the 2019 overall prize pool of three international federations. Interesting to note that all three have increased the sums over their 2018 prize pool.

  • Orienteering (IOF):       €12 thousand
  • Skyrunning (ISF):        €187 thousand
  • Biathlon (IBU):         €7,000 thousand

The prize fund for the FootO World Cup was increased for 2019 from €5000 in 2018, but the IOF contributes only €1,500, that is less than 1% of its external revenues, and around 0.15% of its total budget to the €12,000 prize fund.

Although the IOF earns good money from broadcasting the performance of top orienteers, there is absolutely no visible intention to share the profit with the athletes.

In 2018 100%, in 2019 88% of the prize fund comes from a contribution imposed on the organisers of World Cup races. The organisers have to pay this extra fee over and above of all other IOF imposed costs like the sanction fee, anti-doping fee, TV production costs, and the likes.

The information on the Skyrunning prize fund is a bit patchy. It is unclear how much different sources contribute. What is clear that individual races of the World Series must have at least a €6,000 or a €10,000 prize fund in addition to contributing to the overall prizes. They also have to offer free entry and accommodation to the top 10 runners.  No obligation on live TV, though. A very different approach from another non-Olympic sport. They clearly try to attract the top athletes.

The IBU prize fund of €7million rewards a large number of athletes. IBU pays this over and above the €4 million planned as participation support to athletes. Of course, IBU plays in a different league, but it is remarkable that the €7million represents approximately of 1/4 of their external revenues of TV rights, sponsors and funds from the IOC.

If the IOF would follow an approach similar to IBU, approximately €45,000 to €50,000 would be paid to the athletes based on the planned net proceeds from sponsors, TV rights, Live Orienteering, and IOC contribution. If we consider the event sanction fees as external revenue, like the IOF leadership does, then €100,000 to €110,000 would be the prize fund following IBU’s approach.

What is behind the IOF’s rather different attitude towards sharing the proceeds with the best athletes?

Continue reading “The Value of Athletes”

Olympic Dream – status end 2018

End of 2018 was another busy period for me and I could not focus on this blog. Now I have a bit more time to share some thoughts on recent developments in our sport.

One topic I wanted to catch up with is the Olympic Dream. This a fascinating area of IOF activity: heightened communication around the Olympic ambitions combined with apparently haphazard activities or lack of it, and no meaningful results to show whatsoever. A year ago I already I wrote about the talk vs action related to the Paris 2024 dream.

In this post I would like to recap the current status of the Olympic Dream that sometimes gives a feeling of a black hole for IOF resources. In a separate post I will try to analyse what could make the leaders of the IOF chase this fantasy instead of focusing the limited resources on more practical tasks.

When you look beyond pink cloud ambitions, scratch the surface, and look into the details, it becomes rather obvious that the chances of orienteering being included in the Olympic programme is zero. Not slim, not poor, not little. Simply zero.

Let’s start this review with the new strategy as presented by the Council to the General Assembly in October 2018.  The General Assembly – as always – unanimously approved the Strategic Directions and the Activity Plan proposed. One can read the full text in the Congress Binder, but the essence is shown below:

iof strategic directions 2018-2022

 

I found particularly interesting the “so as to” wording above. According to all dictionaries it means “in order to” or “for the purpose of”. That is, increased attractiveness of orienteering shall serve the purpose of inclusion in the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and not some l’art pour l’art (or rather sport pour le sport) love of orienteering.

The Council clearly set the Olympic Dream as the ultimate goal for orienteering from 2019 on.

To appreciate the difference, compare this with the previous, 2012 version of Strategic Directions, where the goal to position for inclusion in the Olympics was only one of the goals, not the ultimate one.

 

iof key goals 2012-18

One can also see the difference in the changed approach looking at the Activity Plan for 2018-2020. Specific details of the Olympic Dream are spelled out amongst the focus areas in the same document:

iof focus areas - goal 2020

Great ambitions! The intensification of the effort to throw more resources down the black hole of the Olympic Dream is emphasised by the goals of gaining inclusion in the programme of specific Olympic Games. There was nothing similar in the 2012 and 2014 activity plans. These specifics were first introduced in the 2016 plans.

activity plan 2016-2018

The result was predictable:

  • Inclusion in YOG games secured – key outcome by 2018 – FAIL
  • Contact with Beijing 2022 organisers – target – NO RESULT
  • Contact with Paris 2024 organisers – target –  UNCLEAR (but unlikely, see below)

The outcome for the 2018-2020 Activity Plan regarding the Olympic Dream is just as predictable. Let’s look into the details below that can be easily summarised:

  • The Olympic and Youth Olympic sport selection is secretive with no clear application process, and does not favour orienteering for various reasons;
  • The Paralympic selection process is more transparent, but the IOF apparently did not even apply to be considered for inclusion in Paris 2024.

Continue reading “Olympic Dream – status end 2018”