Ximena Restrepo was chosen as the first female vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Wednesday but the election was overshadowed by the late decision to prevent the United Arab Emirates’ Ahmed Al Kamali from standing.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) announced he had been suspended for a “potential violation of the IAAF Candidacy Rules and Integrity Code of Conduct”.

The decision to ban Al Kamali, President of the UAE Athletics Federation and an attorney at law, from standing for vice-president and the IAAF Council was taken so late that he had already arrived here for the vote and officials had to remove his accreditation from him. 

It is believed that the AIU had been investigating allegations of corruption against Al Kamali for several weeks and interviewed him in the Qatari capital last night. 

Sebastian Coe, himself re-elected for a second term as IAAF President today, claimed that he did not find out about the decision until a few minutes before the Congress was due to begin and did not know what the specific allegations were. 

But, in 2015, when he was elected as a member of the IAAF Council in Beijing, Al Kamali was forced to deny allegations he had offered delegates Rolex watches in an attempt to win votes at the Confederation of African Athletics Congress.

He denied the claims.

Restrepo, the first Colombian to win an Olympic medal in athletics when she claimed a bronze in the 400 metres at Barcelona 1992, was elected as the first female vice-president in the IAAF’s 117-year history. 

The 50-year-old, now a citizen of Chile, was elected ahead of Canada’s Abby Hoffman, the 1963 and 1971 Pan American Games 800m gold medallist and 1966 Commonwealth Games 880 yards champion, and The Netherlands’ Sylvia Barlag, who finished 10th in the pentathlon at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. 

Restrepo polled 85 votes with Hoffman getting 68 and Barlag 53.

“Ximena is a former athlete which is tremendously helpful when you’re driving the sport forward,” Coe said.

“I am delighted that we have for the very first time elected a female vice-president and that she will be joined by seven other women on Council. 

“This is a historic moment.”

Coe had initiated a change in the IAAF constitution following his election in Beijing four years ago to ensure that there would be a female vice-president.

“I’m really honoured to take this position,” said Restrepo. 

“It’s a great moment for me and for my country. 

“I would like to thank you, Seb, because this was only made possible because of you and the changes made to the constitution.

“I think we, as women, now have more opportunities than before. 

“I just hope I can do a good job. 

“I’d like to thank all of the Member Federations who voted for me. 

“I hope I can be all that they expected me to be.”




Restrepo is joined as IAAF vice-president by Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka, Norfolk Island’s Geoffrey Gardner and Saudi Arabia’s Prince Nawaf Bin Mohammed Al Saud.

Bubka, who held the post of senior IAAF vice-president having lost out for President to Coe in 2015, and Gardner were elected with 139 and 105 votes respectively.

But Cuba’s double Olympic gold medallist Alberto Juantorena, elected as a vice-president in Beijing four years ago, lost his position. 

He was beaten by Prince Nawaf in a run-off after both polled 71 votes.

In the second vote, Prince Nawaf received 106 votes to Juantorena’s 100. 

Juantorena did, however, win one of the 13 seats on the IAAF Council.

Hoffman and Barlag also retained their places on the Council – meaning there will be a record eight women on the sport’s ruling executive.

Restrepo, Hoffman and Barlag will be joined by Italy’s Anna Riccardi and Morocco’s Nawal El Moutawakel, who also retained their places, and newcomers Nan Wang, vice-director of the Chinese Athletics Association, and Beatrice Ayikoru, secretary general of the Ugandan Athletics Federation.

The final female member of the Council will be a representative of the IAAF Athletes’ Commission, expected to be announced in November. 



Hiroshi Yokokawa, President of the Japan Association of Athletics Federations, is another newly-elected member of the IAAF Council less than a year before Tokyo is due to host the Olympic Games.

The 72-year-old businessman, the former executive vice-president at Osaka Gas Co Ltd, earned more votes than any of his rivals with 142.

Also elected to the Council for the first time was America’s Willie Banks, silver medallist in the triple jump at the 1983 IAAF World Championships, and Spain’s Raul Chapado, another former triple jumper who competed at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

The list of debutants was completed by Dobromir Karamarinov, the first vice-president of European Athletics.

Adille Sumariwalla, President of the Athletics Federation of India, who competed in the 100m at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, retained his place on the Council. 

The 61-year-old, now a successful media tycoon in India, had earlier withdrawn from the race for IAAF vice-president.

The IAAF Council is completed by Antti Pihlakoski, President of the Finnish Athletics Federation.

The 58-year-old, a former middle-distance runner, polled 125 votes, more than anyone except Yokokawa.

insidethegames has contacted Al Kamali for comment. 


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