In 2008, Adidas signed an 11-year deal with the International Association of Athletics Federations to be an official sponsor. Now, with a few years remaining on the contract, Adidas wants out as the IAAF continues to fight a losing battle for positive attention due to a doping scandal.
With three years left on the original agreement, the BBC reports the decision by Adidas will cut “tens of millions of dollars in revenue” for the IAAF. Adidas is the federation’s biggest sponsor. Adidas informed the IAAF of its decision in writing last week. The IAAF still has some big name sponsors left lending support, for now. Among them are Canon, Toyota, Seiko, TDK, TBS and Mondo.
Adidas reportedly began contemplating a move to cut ties with the IAAF banning Russia from international competition due to a doping scandal. That was followed by a follow-up report centered on corruption within the IAAF under former president Lamine Diack. That was more than enough for Adidas to start making progress on their plans to withdraw their support. The timing could not have been worse for the IAAF, with the Olympics starting later this year.
“It’s one thing to say we won’t be renewing our contract after 2019 but to actually terminate your contract now, seven, eight months before the start of the Olympic Games, this is huge,” Darren Campbell, Olympic gold medalist said.
Over the next four years the IAAF will lose an estimated $30 million in revenue. The loss of revenue may be a temporary hit in the grand scheme of things, but it is a significant blow to the association’s public image.
“In terms of finance it is a setback, but it is not fatal. It is a hit they can take,” said BBC athletics correspondent Mike Costello. “But it is about perception. This is a hammer blow.”