IAAF Call for Re-Vote after Problematic Electronic System Votes Out Bubka

August 24, 2011

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Congress ordered a re-vote after Sergey Bubka, the man favourite to become potential successor to President Lamine Diack, catastrophically failed to earn election as one of the four vice-presidents. 

The Ukrainian’s defeat had seemed to have boosted Sebastian Coe’s chances of being elected as the next President when Diack eventually steps down in 2015.

Coe, the London 2012 chairman, polled 167 of the 199 votes to finish fourth behind Qatar’s Dahlan Jumman Al Hamad and Canada’s Abby Hoffman, who both got 175, and the United States Bob Hersh with 171.

Bubka, the 1988 Olympic pole vault champion and world record holder, and seen as the rising star in global sports administration both within the IAAF and International Olympic Committtee (IOC) earned only 118 votes and was not elected finishing fifth overall.

At the last IAAF elections in Osaka four years ago Bubka had topped the poll with 167 of the 192 votes, leading to Diack to appoint him as the IAAF’s senior vice-president.

Hamad, currently acting as the head of the Asian Athletics Association, had on that occasion finished fourth with 129 while Coe got 137.

But doubts over the electronic voting system led to Diack ordering a re-run this afternoon.

The validity of the system began to come under scrutiny following the election of Russian Valentin Balakhnichev as the new treasurer in the election that followed the one for vice-president with more votes were cast than member federations were in the chamber and a wild swing in the polling.

In the first round Spain’s Jose Maria Odriozola had polled 93 votes but failed to earn an overall majority against his rivals, the Czech Republic’s Karel Pilny, who got 75, and Balakhnichev with 42.

That meant a total of 210 votes were cast when only 199 were supposed to be eligible.

Then ,in the second round, Odriozola dropped to 41 as Pilny got 77 and Balakhnichev 87 – a total of 205.

As things stand, it means Bubka will not have a place at the top table of world athletics as he had been so confident of being re-elected as vice-president that he had not put himself forward a place on the ruling Council.

That would seriously jeopardise his chances of succeeding Diack when the next Presidential election is held in Beijing in 2015.

Bubka had declined to challenge Diack for the Presidency this time round, although there was pressure on both him and Coe to put themselves forward.

“It is clear there is a problem with the electronic system,” Bubka said as he hurried out of the room at the end of the session.

When asked if he expected to be elected in the re-vote he replied: “Let’s see.”

A hastily arranged “crisis meeting” was then held by IAAF officials during the lunch break who decided to ditch the electronic system and adopt a manual system instead, holding a series of votes, including for the vice-presidents and treasurer, simultaneously.

“We are facing a situation that was totally unseen,” IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss told the meeting when they returned.

“We have lost trust in the system.

“The solution is not ideal but we are not in a situation where we can have ideal solutions.

“We are in crisis.”