Exclusive Report: Adidas To End IAAF Track-and-Field Sponsorhip Four Years Early Amid Doping Probe

Adidas, the world’s number-two maker of sportshoes after Nike, is ending its sponsorship of track-and-field’s governing global body four year ahead of schedule, as the group fights allegations of corruption, the BBC reported, citing people familiar with the matter. “I cannot confirm (the BBC report),” Adidas spokeswoman Katja Schreiber told Handelsblatt Global Edition. “We are in close contacts with the IAAF. We want to understand in detail how the reform process is expected to proceed.” Ms. Schreiber added: “Adidas was against doping in any form” and the German sportswear maker had cancelled sponsor contracts with athletes who had violated doping rules, for instance, U.S. sprinter Tyson Gay or British sprinter Dwain Chambers. In a statement Monday, IAAF said it was “in close contact with all its sponsors and partners as we embark on our reform process.” Adidas, the biggest sponsor of the International Association of Athletics Federations, informed the organization last week that it would be prematurely ending its sponsorship, the BBC reported Sunday. The company took the step as a direct consequence of allegations made first in November and repeated again earlier this month that the IAAF had systematically covered up doping and cheating by Russian athletes, the BBC reported. The Adidas sponsorship deal was reportedly worth about $8 million in cash and products per year, the BBC said, citing people familiar with the matter. The 11-year contract, which started in 2008, was to run until 2019. A commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency in November said it found evidence of widespread doping in Russia and “corruption and bribery” within IAAF, which it passed on to Interpol. The IAAF earlier this month said it “acknowledges and accepts the extreme gravity of the commission’s findings.” The anti-doping agency launched its investigations after German public broadcaster ARD in 2014 accused athletes, officials and organizations in Russia of using doping or facilitating its use, citing witnesses and other evidence. Adidas is also one of the major sponsors of the world’s soccer governing body FIFA, which is facing U.S. charges that some of its officials accepted bribes. Ms. Schreiber of Adidas said matters at IAAF and UEFAwere not related and she repeated statements from Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer that the company was optimistic that  FIFA was changing  its organization.