Rex Harvey: WMA on verge of bankruptcy under President PerkinsRex Harvey was the only candidate to complete my questionnaire in the WMA presidential election. Incumbent Stan Perkins wrote me Saturday: “My apologies, but I am in Porto Alegre and have been extremely busy with Council meetings and much communication with the local organisers regarding the championship preparations. Elections have not been on my agenda for some time with the need to get this event ready for the athletes taking total priority over everything else.” In fact, WMA confirms that meet organizers are just now marking lanes at one track and installing cages. “(Perkins) indicated that it was quite amazing that the Brazilians seemed quite at ease with the late preparations and it seems that this is the way they do things in this part of the world,” says WMA. In any case, WMA may have bigger fish to fry if Rex is right. In his 3,700-word Q&A, Rex says WMA’s net worth is “dangerously low” and “is only a short way from bankruptcy unless there are some quick and major changes.” Rex lays much of the blame at the feet of Stan, whom he depicts as free-spending. Stan is welcome to respond in the comments.
This is Rex Harvey’s response to my questions. I extended the deadline for Q&A to Wednesday, but Stan appears too busy in Brazil to supply answers.
Masterstrack.com: Stan, what are your top accomplishments as president of World Masters Athletics? Rex, how do you rate Stanâ€™s tenure as president?
Rex Harvey: I will attempt to answer, but the question is awkward because I was not in the position to do much for WMA but was mostly forced to just observe. But I have observed very closely for, as is well known, I have a lot of concern for the well-being of WMA. Stan has written a lengthy (9-page) presidential report that is in the Porto Alegre General Assembly Booklet which has been sent to all the WMA affiliates.
Here are my comments concerning the accomplishments that Stan mentions in his report.
Council and meetings: Stan pointed out that one executive and one council meeting were held during the two-year period. He further pointed out that it was good to have six people on the council from Europe as that reduced travel costs when meeting there, but he failed to mention the repeated costs of the travel from Australia to Europe and elsewhere.
Financial matters: Stanâ€™s report lays the blame for “continued pressure on the finances of WMA” on â€śproblems that arose from Sacramento.â€ť But when I look at the audited financial statements of the 2011 and 2012 period, I see that the WMA budget had projected $343K in income and actually collected $332K in income. In addition, I understand, from people that know, that, in the end, very little was lost from the amount that Sacramento owed WMA and that small amount was purposefully withheld from WMA to pay for additional services added, at WMA insistence, at the last minute during the championships. And certainly that $11K shortfall in overall income for the two-year period does not explain WMAâ€™s huge losses.
Regional championships: Stan points out that he attended the European, Oceania and South American Regional Championships and that they were good opportunities to “address the General Assemblies.” Past WMA presidents, when they did send delegates to regional championships, would usually send someone in close proximity. But he evidently feels that his personal presence is necessary. He has bragged about visiting all regions, but fails to mention the cost of that.
He states in his report that he considers the regional level to be the most important in WMA and that the educational and developmental activities should be applied there. This sounds good but is curious talk coming from a WMA president and a council that has cut off passing the IAAF grant monies onto to the regions (with the exception of a small amount to Africa and South America).
The IAAF grant was negotiated with the IAAF primarily by Cesar Moreno Bravo many years ago and its stated purpose was to allow WMA and the regions some income without having to charge affiliates a membership fee thus allowing even financially strapped countries to become affiliates.
So now the regions get a president to speak at their General Assemblies, but they get no money to run their programs. I donâ€™t think the regions were asked before this change was made. I personally think that money belongs to the regions, not the WMA general operating fund.
Future championships: Stan points out that the troubles that WMA has seen in organizing Porto Alegre 2013 come from the LOC itself and the 2007 and 2009 WMA Executive Inspection teams. I was a part of the 2007 initial inspection team and I have to point out that SOGIPA was the primary venue planned at that time and that SOGIPA had been the site of many previous national and international championships.
I think the noncompliant venue he is making reference to in his report was the PUCRS venue, which was only a year or two old at the time we visited and we were assured was of IAAF quality design and construction. The CETE venue, which is now the primary venue, was very Spartan at that time and in very poor condition. But, again, we were assured that it would be upgraded. And it is being upgraded now and is planned to be finished by the start of the championships although that is now getting very close.
We demanded official surveys of the venues in 2007 and they were promised, but were never received in my tenure as Stadia VP. Stan does not mention that the current council might have had some responsibility for directing and working with the LOC for the last four years to properly prepare for the championships. But he seems to prefer to place the blame for the difficult preparations on the LOC itself and inspections that were done six years ago.
IAAF relations: Stan states that a number of meetings and interactions (in Monaco several times and at the London Olympics, etc.) were held. He further states that “a meeting of real importance” was held with the International Masters Games Association (IMGA) and that the “status of WMA in respect of World Masters Games was clearly defined.â€ť He doesn’t elaborate on that clear definition, but hints that WMA might sign a contract with IMGA to take on the responsibility to â€śensure rules, standards and management of athletics in their games.â€ť
The small fact that IMGA is not responsible for those things, but that they leave them up to the local organizers, was not mentioned. It seems to me that WMA could easily end up with a contract with IMGA requiring lots of responsibility and have very little authority (and budget) in the actual working local organization to carry out those responsibilities.
IAAF Masters Athlete of the Year: Stan speaks glowingly about the IAAF Galas that he attends (in Monaco usually, but Barcelona last year). These awards are titled IAAF, but the awardees actually are WMA-designated. He states that he is proud that the presentations are now an integral part of the main ceremony and so am I as it is a great recognition of masters as part of the worldwide athletic family. I also assume that he is proud of the fact that, since he has been the WMA president, four of the six Masters Athletes of the Year were from Australia and five out of the six were from Oceania.
Proposed new Constitution: Tom Jordan, the acting WMA president at the last General Assembly in Lahti, said that he had asked council members what their concerns were (including a report from Monty Hacker (the then recently resigned acting president) and that”a need for a reorganization to decide on the makeup of the council and to more clearly define various duties assigned to the various members” was at the top of the list.
Recordings of the proceedings show that the General Assembly passed a motion instructing the council to study the matter and report back to the 2011 General Assembly. But the administration decided to go ahead and create a brand new Constitution, etc., but didn’t get it done by the Sacramento General Assembly.
In fact, they don’t have it done yet for the Porto Alegre General Assembly. But they are now promising that it will be done by the 2015 General Assembly in Lyon, France, if the General Assembly allows the president, and four people that he appoints, to finish the documents and create a transition plan. Words are nice, but eventually actions are required.
I am not a fan of completely throwing out the old Constitution, bylaws, etc., and the entire old organization and starting over. What we have has more or less worked for 38 years and can, and should, be modified into something that is much better organized and much more clear and efficient. It simply requires some effective leadership to get it done.
I agree that WMA needs a permanent address, and not just the ever-changing address of the WMA president of the moment. There is no doubt that the Monaco IAAF HQ is an appropriate and prestigious permanent address. But we could have that address and keep our current base in Sweden if we wanted. Very few even know where the organization is based, because it makes little difference to the day-to-day operations.
But there is a big difference between an address in Monaco, and the basis of the organization in Monaco. The current administration has used the proposed change of the basis of WMA from Sweden to Monaco as an excuse for the delays to the proposed Constitution, etc. I have studied the appropriate laws of Monaco and the process is fairly simple and straightforward, especially with a local sponsor (IAAF) in Monaco. And it certainly can be done without banishing the old WMA and creating a “new” WMA.
The World Mountain Running Association and the World Ultra Running Organization have recently moved their bases to Monaco and they did it without a lot of fanfare and with short and simple Constitutions. The existing WMA organization can simply move its legal base to Monaco from Sweden if it wishes.
There is no need for the old WMA to be banished and a brand new organization formed unless there are ulterior motives in doing so. Also it has been stated by the current administration that WMA cannot stay in Sweden, but that simply is not true. All we have to do is hire an address for official Swedish paperwork to go to and we could keep our base in Sweden with very little expense and bother.
What are your top 3 goals as president of WMA starting after Porto Alegre?
If I am elected, the number one priority will be to repair the financial damage that WMA has suffered in the past four years and to lead the organization to operate within its budget on an ongoing basis. Why? Because the evidence is that WMA is unwisely spending its money, most of that money comes from its own athletes who expect more than what they are being given.
In addition, I am afraid that WMA risks losing its IAAF endorsement if it becomes insolvent and I’m afraid that we are very close to that.
Number two would be to lead the entire council to work long and hard in close cooperation with the upcoming championships LOCs. WMA and the LOCs must be close and trusting partners, not opponents and objects of blame. If we make our championships a desirable item for LOCs, we will have plenty of high quality bids to choose from to present the best possible championships for our athletes.
Thirdly, WMA needs to, in a timely manner, complete the reorganization that it undertook over four years ago to become more efficient. And this reorganization needs to be clear and simple. In his report, Stan asks the Porto Alegre General Assembly to adopt the proposed constitution, bylaws and other documents.
But it seems illogical to me that people would be asked to adopt something that is not finished, does not have a transition plan, does not address some of the basic demands of the members and is overly long and complex.
Are you happy with the WMA website? If not, what else needs to be done?
The WMA website has improved 100% in the past few years, but it needs to improve 200% more. It needs to be much more than schedules, results and pictures of the president. It can contain so much more like training, coaching, technique, sports psychology, age-grading, etc.
The status of all record applications should be online at all times so everyone knows exactly where each application stands. The current draft of the proposed changes to the Constitution, etc., should be online at all times so that all members are aware of what is being proposed so they can meaningfully participate. No more small windows of opportunity to contribute.
There are many good examples to follow of private, and our own affiliates’, websites around the world with interesting and informative content and discussion.
The British Masters Athletics Federation wants the choice of World Best Masters of the Year taken away from the WMA Council and given to a panel of appointed statisticians. Do you support or oppose this idea? Why or why not?
I think that the best solution would be a combination of both. An appropriate procedure could be that the records and awards heads from each affiliate to nominate a maximum of one female and one male candidate and that list would then be vetted and reduced down to the proposed winners by a panel of the six regional records chairs after which the council would approve or reject-for-specific-reason.
Such a procedure would directly involve those who know the most about the subject and the body with the ultimate responsibility for the matter.
Stan says in his GA report that heâ€™s resolved issues in the India and Mexico affiliates. What were the issues? Are you satisfied with the result?
The issue was that there were private individual organizations representing, or attempting to represent, their respective countries at WMA instead of the official IAAF federations. The solution in Mexico was to declare the IAAF federation the official WMA affiliate when the private organization drug their feet in negotiations. To date it seems to have worked well. I am not familiar with what has occurred in India, but Stan could clarify that as he and Winston have visited there. It is clear why the IAAF prefers it this way, as they say that they have no power over independent WMA organizations to insist on regular reports, conduct of anti-doping efforts, etc., but that they do have power over the IAAF federations.
World masters meets have conducted drug-testing since at least 1999. Does masters track have a serious problem with doping?
Masters has a double serious problem with doping. First of all there are those who cheat in the normal sense of drug enhanced strength and endurance. Catching and prosecuting is very expensive, certainly beyond the means of WMA alone. But there also is the problem of the genuine need for some banned substances as we all age. How that line is drawn between the unfair enhancement and needed therapy is the real problem that we face.
World masters meets drug-test a tiny fraction of entrants. Has this testing program been a success? How do you define success?
Of course the testing program has been successful. I am aware of many who will not attend meets in which they are subject to testing. Perhaps someday, we elevate to the threat of out-of-competition testing also and further discourage those who would cheat by doping. It has always been my personal opinion that those convicted of doping offenses should have â€śconvicted of doping in XXXXâ€ť asterisk put by any records that they happen to hold. There needs to be a price to pay for gaining unfair advantage.
The IAAF Masters Committee is giving way to a new Masters Commission. What did the IAAF Masters Committee accomplish â€” besides $80,000 stipends to WMA?
It was Stan and I, with the support of the rest of the IAAF Masters Committee, who got the grant raised from $40K every two years to $80K. Stan proposed it to the committee and I gave the facts to support the increase. And the facts were basically simple. Since Cesar Moreno Bravo had negotiated the grant years and years ago, inflation had cut its actual value in half.
What did the committee accomplish? It did what it set out to do â€” to raise the awareness of Masters Track and Field in the IAAF and all its members. By being there, within the structure of the IAAF, it established and then improved the familiarity and cooperation between WMA and the IAAF. Now that the committee is changed to a commission, the members will be appointed rather than elected from a worldwide pool.
The intention is that members with more specialized knowledge will be appointed, thus making the commission more effective than the committee was. Also, four IAAF persons on the commission will provide an advantage over the single IAAF person who was on the committee.
Should the IAAF Masters Commission lobby for masters exhibition events at the Olympics and IAAF world championships? What kinds of masters events would you like to see in the Olympics and IAAF worlds?
Itâ€™s a good idea. There have been masters exhibition events at the IAAF World Championships. I think of Helsinki in 2005 as an example. Trials were held a few days ahead in Lahti and the finals were held at the World Championship track in Helsinki during some of the breaks between Senior World Championship events. Yes, I think this should be encouraged, but only if the format was such that we would get good participation and therefore good competition.
Most masters times and distances are not going to impress the usual fans. But a close competition is always interesting. To be fair, the events should be spread amongst all disciplines and, most important of all, announced well so the crowd knows what is going on. My ultimate dream has always been that the WMA World Championships become the warm-up administrative and officials practice meet preceding the Olympics just as the Para-Olympics meet traditionally follows the Olympics. That would truly integrate masters into the worldwide athletics family.
Are you happy with the accuracy and ratification system of world masters track and field records? What changes would you make, if any?
No, I am not satisfied with the system right now. And the reason I am not happy is that I continually see correspondence going back and forth with questions about this and questions about that in regard to records. These questions should not have to be asked. I would act, as soon as possible, to have a section of the WMA website contain the status of all record applications.
There may be better ways, but I envision that it would be a record status sheet of each record application consisting of a checklist of all information required and all the steps in the process required. So anyone, at any time, could look online at the status checklist and see which items were in place, and which ones were not, and could see what step of the records process the record was in.
And if something was not checked, like a missing fully automatic timing picture, the person, or the organization, submitting the record application could take steps to fulfill that requirement. Or if it was showing that the record had not yet been approved by the WMA Council, the applicant could contact his/her regional delegate member of the council and find out why.
WMAâ€™s finances have been under stress due to budget shortfalls, including failures of the Sacramento LOC to deliver on its promises. What would you do to make sure WMA is on firm financial footing?
A quick bottom-line snapshot of the financial state of any organization, including WMA, is its net current assets at any given time.
Net current assets are what the organization would be worth if it immediately received all income due and paid all debts due. According to WMA financial statements, net current assets stood at $196K at the end of 2009, the year that the current administration took over.
Three years later, at the end of December last year (2012) that net value had dropped precipitously down to $67K on the audited financial statement. But that figure does not include at least $41K in other legitimate debts that should have been paid but were retained in the operating funds.
That brings WMA’s net worth dangerously low in my opinion. And this statement was at the end of last year and over nine months have passed since, and certainly there have been additional expenses. But the actual financial situation at this time is not known as it has not been made public.
The reason for these huge losses is very obvious â€” overspending of the WMA budgets. One small quick example is the Presidential Budget line item that was added in this period. In the 38-year history of WMA, there had never been a presidential budget line item, but there was this time and there is next time. It was for $17K. Yet by the end of 2012, $38K had already been spent against that line item, and that was nine months ago. It seems to me that, at the recent rate of loss, WMA is only a short way from bankruptcy unless there are some quick and major changes in the administration of the organization.
Please see my â€śtop three goalsâ€ś above in question #2 for actions that I would take.
Any other remarks youâ€™d like to make about yourself or your opponent?
Ken, you have done a good job of asking about most of the most important subjects. But there is one thing that you have not touched upon. And that is the cooperation, level of participation and overall effectiveness of the current council.
From my observations, this is, without a doubt, the least productive, least cooperative council in my 27 years of WMA work. The experiment with fresh new people over the last four years has not worked out so well. And it was not necessarily their own fault. They simply have family and career obligations that do not allow them the free time necessary to do an adequate job for WMA.
I am asking not only for support for my candidacy, but also support for other council candidates that are in, or can arrange, a life situation where they have plenty of time to devote to WMA work. Council positions performed well truly are nearly full-time jobs and some of the current council members have stated their surprise at this fact in their reports to the General Assembly.
The president has been gradually pulling in more and more responsibilities to himself, including taking over standing committee chairmanships. This is not wise leadership as there is far too much work to be done than any one person can do.
I would clarify what each council memberâ€™s responsibilities were, and give the proper amount of authority and resources. And then instruct, encourage and help the council members to accomplish their responsibilities. Leadership is more than just condensing and absorbing responsibility.