Olle Dahlin, an IBU vice-president from Sweden, and Baiba Broka of Latvia are busy drumming up support for their presidential bids, as they seek to restore the battered credibility of the federation.
Former IBU president Anders Besseberg and secretary general Nicole Resch were engulfed in a doping scandal earlier this year. The IOC has been keeping a watchful eye amid an Austrian investigation into allegations of bribery and criminal wrongdoing linked to doping cases involving Russian athletes. A WADA tip-off led to Austrian prosecutors raiding the IBU’s headquarters in Salzburg in April.
Dahlin and Broka have sent out manifestos to the IBU’s member federations, with both promising transparency and good governance under their leadership.
Of the two, Dahlin has the greater experience in biathlon administration. But Broka offers some fresh perspectives.
In his manifesto, the president of the Swedish Biathlon Federation and executive board member of the Swedish Olympic Committee, vows to be “a president for all nations and all athletes”.
“I will use my extensive experience in biathlon and business to take biathlon into a new era,” he writes in his campaign messaging, also vowing to implement concrete reforms “that will improve good governance and transparency”. He has committed to reviewing the IBU’s constitution in line with international best practice and to strengthen the sport’s anti-doping work to establish biathlon as “the clean sport”.
Dahlin said he will work with member federations to develop a strategic plan to increase services to them, drive innovation of the sport and enhance its events.
“I believe that with the clear and effective leadership I will provide, the IBU can use this moment of transition as an opportunity to ensure biathlon enters into a new era stronger than ever before,” he said.
“Having served as vice president for development since 2014, I have a very clear understanding of what needs to be done. I have worked with my colleagues on the executive board to ensure that during this difficult time the sport remained in safe hands.
“We must work hard to show we are committed to good governance and financial transparency in order to restore and build the trust of our stakeholders as fast as possible. This will pave the way for increased revenues for investment in the development of biathlon worldwide.”
Dahlin has a high-profile backer in IOC member from Sweden Gunilla Lindberg, who sits on the Olympic committee’s ruling body.
“I have known Olle for many years and he is a person that you really can count on. He knows sports, he knows the international sports movement, he has a good reputation, he is a good organiser and, most of all, he is devoted to biathlon,” she is quoted in his manifesto. “He will deliver on his promises and his skills will be a great asset if you give him your trust and elect him.”
Dahlin refused to speculate on the support he has among the national federations. “All I can do is tell voters about my vision for leading biathlon into a new era and explain how I plan to build a stronger and sustainable future for the sport,” he tells Around the Rings.
In her 12-page manifesto, the president of the Latvian Biathlon Federation and member of the IBU’s legal committee makes a strong case for presidency. She said “100 percent transparency and zero tolerance in doping” is her number one principle. Broka said she has refined her detailed manifesto, sent out last week to the national federations, following consultations with them as well as coaches and athletes.
There are five targets in her campaign: Good governance and indisputable compliance; integrity, trust and zero tolerance towards doping; optimised structures and more diversity;
innovation and development; and commercial growth and digital transformation of the sport.
“Today, the reputation of the IBU is battered and bruised. Now more than ever, the leadership of the IBU – and the IBU president in particular – have a duty and moral obligation to encourage and promote ethical behaviour and to ensure that such a culture permeates the entire biathlon community, from top to bottom,” Broka, a trained lawyer, writes in her manifesto.
On restoring the IBU’s integrity, she said “doping has robbed our sport of its purity and shattered the belief of its die-hard fans. It is crucial that we give them something to believe in again and I, free of any past allegiances and with a career in law, am the person to inspire change and restoration.”
Broka said the commitments in her manifesto were “clear, credible and achievable”.
Speaking to Around the Rings, Broka pointed to her achievements in four years working on the IBU’s legal committee, saying she had drafted many proposals for the executive board including on how to implement a whistleblowing policy and helped to deliver a new Code of Ethics and to establish an ethics commission.
“I feel very confident that my legal background and experience in working in international organisations, ability to defend my rights and experience to lead teams and motivate to work together can help to rebuild the reputation of the IBU, to make a fair and transparent environment that our athletes can show their best results and compete freely.”
A total of 54 nations will attend the Sept. 7 IBU congress in Porec, Croatia; 52 are full members and two – Russia and Ireland – are provisional members. It will be up to the congress to decide if they will be full members with the right to vote.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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