Adidas has announced it is to terminate the IAAF -the International Association of Athletics Federations – sponsorship deal four years early.
The sportswear giant is the IAAF’s biggest sponsor.
Adidas informed the athletics’ world governing body of its decision – understood to be a direct result of the doping scandal sweeping the sport – last week.
The company has not commented, but the IAAF issued a short statement on January 25.
It made no reference to its deal with Adidas, revealing it was “in close contact with all its sponsors and partners as we embark on our reform process”.
Adidas is one of the IAAF’s official partners, along with Canon, Toyota, Seiko, TDK, TBS and Mondo.
According to several reports, Adidas informed the IAAF in November 2015 it was considering ending their relationship early after a report detailed claims of “state sponsored doping” within Russia.
The report was compiled by an independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Earlier this month, the commission’s chairman, Dick Pound, delivered a second, damning report that revealed “corruption was embedded” within the IAAF under former president Lamine Diack.
Within days, a decision at the highest level in Adidas was taken to terminate the relationship with the IAAF.
It is understood the German multinational believes the doping revelations in Dick Pound’s reports constitute a breach of its agreement with the IAAF.
The 11-year deal was signed in 2008 and due to run until 2019. At the time it was signed, it was reported the deal was worth $33 million.
The withdrawal of Adidas will come as a major blow to the sport – and to IAAF president Sebastian Coe – in a time of unprecedented turmoil.
The WADA reports on state sponsored doping have left athletics facing an Olympic year with major reputational damage to repair.
It is also facing a French criminal investigation into corruption, which is looking into the awarding of every World Championships since 2007.
It now seems Adidas believes there is too much reputational risk to its brand to continue its association with the IAAF.
Adidas has also expressed its displeasure at the corruption scandal that continues to engulf FIFA, although it remains world soccer’s governing body’s oldest commercial partner.