Power and Politics in World Athletics : A Critical History book cover
1st Edition

Power and Politics in World Athletics
A Critical History

ISBN 9780367434472
Published June 21, 2021 by Routledge
284 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

SAVE ~ $32.00
was $160.00
USD $128.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This book provides the first detailed history of one of the most powerful international sport organisations, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), since 2019 known as World Athletics. The book critically assesses the internal power relations within the IAAF by focusing on the IAAF leadership.

Based on extensive archival research, Power and Politics in World Athletics offers a nuanced analysis of the institutionalised strategies that developed as a reflection of the IAAF’s interests and aims to create a broader understanding of the global sport system. With only six presidents in over a century of existence, the IAAF’s leaders had profound impacts on other international institutions, national stakeholders and sporting participants. Through four sections, the book identifies various key turning points in the history of the governing body of athletics, and explores the IAAF’s foundation, the policies of past IAAF presidents, and controversial issues such as doping, corruption and manipulation through a socio-historical lens. The book shows that while anyone could take part in athletics, policies enacted by each president served to ostracize those groups who did not fit into the IAAF’s vision of an equal playing field.

This book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in sport history, sport sociology, the politics of sport, sport management, sport governance, or international organisations.

Table of Contents

Foreword by John M. Hoberman


List of Abbreviations


Part I: Formation

1. Getting Under Way: The Federation’s Genesis

2. Expanding and Shielding the (Male) Monopoly

3. Origins of Controversial Politics and Principles

Part II: Stagnation

4. A New World Faced with Old Views: Burghley’s Political Battle Grounds

5. Of Depositors and Frankensteins: Growth and its Consequences

6. A Clash of Ideas: Amateurism Meets Adidas

7. The Scientification of Doping and Gender

Part III: Transformation

8. Transitionary Leadership: Paulen’s Presidency

9. Nebiolo and the Money: Commercialisation and Professionalisation

10. Nebiolo and the Power: Clientelism and Control

11. Nebiolo and the Athletes: Marginalised Entertainers

Part IV: Exploitation

12. Diack’s Assumption of Power: "The King is Dead, Long Live the King"

13. A Critical Analysis of Athletics’ Governance in the 21st Century

Concluding Remarks

Consulted Archives


View More



Jörg Krieger is Assistant Professor for Sport and Social Science at the Department of Public Health at Aarhus University, Denmark. He holds a PhD in Sport History from the German Sport University Cologne. He is Chair of the Research Network Sport & Society and a Co-Director of the International Network for Doping Research.


"Power and Politics in World Athletics – a Critical History - is a fascinating, diligently-researched account of the powerful and secretive organisation identified for most of its history by the acronym, IAAF … an excellent and wide-ranging analysis’ – David Owen, Chief Columnist, insidethegames.biz