German sportswear maker Adidas is said to be pulling out of its sponsorship deal with the International Association of Athletics Federations almost four years early.
According to a BBC report, that is because of doping and corruption allegations surrounding the sport.
Neither Adidas nor the IAAF will confirm the story which the BBC credited to anonymous sources.
Adidas has an 11 year deal that makes it the biggest sponsor of athletics’ governing body. It was due to last until 2019.
Late last year an independent commission for the World Anti-Doping Agency widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia. In mid-January the commission released a second report on its investigations that accused the IAAF of having “embedded corruption” at the very top of the organisation under former president Lamine Diack.
Diack and his son, Papa Massata, are both under investigation by French police over corruption allegations. Both men have denied wrongdoing.
But interestingly Adidas does not seem to think the scandals in the football world – with FIFA – merit it ending that sponsorship, as equity analyst Mathew Beesley with Henderson Global investors pointed out: “Football is a much larger business than athletics. Football is one of those sports that truly touches every country around the world. And the importance for some of the very largest brands to remain associated with football has been seen very much in their inability to distance themselves from FIFA, from world football even in the face of immense scandal during 2015.”
Beesley continued: “So athletics, while important as a business, is a business that some companies like Adidas could indeed perhaps contemplate stepping away from. Whereas football is a business that quite frankly is far too important for anybody to turn their nose up at.”
Adidas has a sponsorship contract with FIFA that runs for another 15 years and close links with FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who is the subject of a criminal investigation by the Swiss authorities.
However the sportswear company’s chief executive Herbert Hainer did say last December that it would re-evaluate that deal if FIFA fails to change and he added it is reforming itself.
The athletics decision was perhaps easier for Adidas as it could be pretty sure that rival Nike would not step in and take over that sponsorship deal.