Nestle has terminated its sponsorship of the IAAF over fears that the corruption and doping scandals surrounding the sport could damage the company’s reputation.
The IAAF, athletics world governing body, is facing crises on multiple fronts, including widespread allegations of corruption and bribery under disgraced former boss Lamine Diack.
Nestle was a financial backer of the IAAF Kids Athletics programme, being its main sponsor since 2012, and they said in a statement: “We have decided to end our partnership with the IAAF Kids’ Athletics programme with immediate effect. This decision was taken in light of negative publicity associated with allegations of corruption and doping in sport made against the IAAF.
Breaking: Lord Coe “angered and dismayed" by Nestle ending partnership with IAAF. "We will not accept it. It’s the kids who will suffer"— Richard Conway (@richard_conway) February 10, 2016
“We believe this could negatively impact our reputation and image and will therefore terminate our existing agreement with the IAAF, established in 2012.”
Nestle’s five-year sponsorship deal of the IAAF programme began in January 2012, when the Monaco-based athletics body said the new funding would go towards arranging courses for lecturers and coaches, with a view to widening its grassroots training reach to more children, encouraging healthier lifestyles.
However athletics has drawn attention for unsavoury reasons in recent months, and last month it emerged that German sportswear giant adidas was looking to end its deal as a leading sponsor of the IAAF four years early.
Athletics is reeling from two damning reports by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) independent commission which revealed “state-sponsored’’ doping in Russia and raised questions about doping in other countries.
Life bans for blackmailing athletes and covering up positive drugs tests were last month handed to Papa Massata Diack, who is the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack and was a marketing consultant for the organisation, together with former Russian athletics federation (ARAF) president and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev, and Alexei Melnikov, a senior ARAF coach.
The IAAF responded to Nestle’s announcement by saying it was in touch with the food giant. It is understood the IAAF has been asked by Nestle to remove all of the sponsor’s logos from its website.
Thousands took to the famed tarmac of Yas Marina Circuit on Friday evening for the Abu Dhabi debut of the world’s brightest 5K night run – Daman’s Active Life Electric Run.
The Dubai running of the event in November last year was marred by a powercut and controversy surrounding certain member of security confiscating water at the start of the race, but the capital leg went off without a hitch as runners of all abilities enjoyed a unique experience at the home of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix.
“We are thrilled to have brought the world famous Electric Run brand to Abu Dhabi for the first time,” said David Sanderson, Race Director from event organisers Fast Track.
The great response we’ve had shows how popular this new wave of social fun run is and the UAE has well and truly embraced it.”
Electric Runners were encouraged to complete the 5km course at their own pace, whether they decided to run, walk or dance.
Entrants were treated to a night filled with energy, live DJs, light installations, lasers African drummers and disco dancers that took them through the 5km route featuring eight themed course lands: Electro Rainforest, Rainbow Road, Teddy Bear Lane, Neffmau5
Land, Colour Brick Road, The Powerhouse and Under the Sea.
“Electric Run is the type of event for which Abu Dhabi is rightly becoming famous,” said Ahmed Abdulla Al Qobaisi Director of Marketing and Communication at Abu Dhabi Sports Council.
“Partnering with world-class events like this provides a great opportunity to integrate sports into Abu Dhabi society.
“Electric Run is a global phenomenon which helps avail the plans, ambitions, and expectations of ADSC in having Abu Dhabi in becoming one of the world capital cities of sports”
The absence of some notable faces allowed for even more young athletes to shine in the third meet of the Ultimate Racenight League.
Several events saw new winners at Dubai Sports City on Thursday night, including the sought-after crown of the men’s seniors 100m.
Kashif Taiyebi paced the field in 11.67 seconds to be the event’s third winner in as many meets.
UAE’s own Musa Khalfan wasn’t there to defend his title in the sprint, which he claimed in a league-best 10.60 seconds in November’s meet, but Taiyebi hopes he’ll be able to run against the best down the road.
“I didn’t feel the competition was as much as the past two Racenights, but hopefully in the next one we’ll get more seniors to do it,” the 18-year-old said. “More competition provokes athletes to do better. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
In U17, Ultimate Athletics’ Adil Amin recorded a personal best in the 1500m with a time of 4:26.87.
It was a bit prophetic for the 15-year-old, who said he was aiming for a PB following the second Racenight meet – Amin’s first race since recovering from a knee injury.
“I’ve felt much better. My knee is fine now and nothing went wrong with me today,” he said. “It’s just a bit of mental pressure. I just feel afraid and anxious…just in general. Every race, I see new people come and I think ‘they might be better than me.’”
A trip to India where he ran a 3k over the winter break, helped Amin deal with that mental pressure.
“I lost that race, but it was a good lesson for me,” he said. “What really tackled me in that race was my mental pressure and my fear of running races. I feel tired sometimes before dropping out, but I’m trying to battle that now.”
Arguably the most impressive performance of the third Racenight belonged to Moroccan Nouman Elassaoui.
After only being in Dubai for six months, Elassaoui has already made an impact with his eye-popping time of 01:52.53 in the 800m.
It was markedly better than his time of 1:56.70 in his first and only league appearance in the opening meet.
“I am very happy to win this race, especially without spikes,” he said. “It’s not time for a meet with spikes for me yet.”
Another 100m winner, 15-year-old Chris Assimacopoulos, crossed in first for the third straight time in 11.54 seconds.
The South African-born athlete also plays rugby with Dubai Hurricanes and credits his running to the team sport.
“I started off in rugby. I was pre-tty quick so I joined athletics and it took off from there,” Assimacopoulos said.
“The rugby fitness helps a lot because there’s a lot of sprinting, starting and stopping.”
Following a two-month hiatus, the Ultimate Racenight League meets have resumed every month, with the next slated for Thursday, February 25.