1st Edition

Power and Politics in World Athletics A Critical History

By Jörg Krieger Copyright 2021
    284 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    284 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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



    Jörg Krieger is Associate 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.

    "It is a convincing and damning critique of the organisation and culture of an international federation; one that asserts the importance of the federations and the informal networks that sustain their power. In doing so Krieger shows the need for similar critical assessments of other international federations. This is an essential contribution to our understandings of sport governance" – Malcolm MacLean, University of Gibraltar and University of Queensland, idrottsforum.org

    "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