Top athletes want cut of IOC billions as Richards-Ross leads protest
21:30 GMT, 30 July 2012
The wife of a multi-millionaire American footballer is leading a campaign to let athletes at Olympic Games share the marketing billions of dollars made by the International Olympic Committee.
Sanya Richards-Ross, a favourite for the 400metres gold medal and wife of NFL star Aaron Ross, wants athletes to be allowed to do their own advertising deals for their kit at Games.
A Twitter campaign with the hash tag We Demand Change was trending with American athletes Tyson Gay and Bernard Lagat backing her, and athletes from other countries raising the issue.
Protest: Sprinter Sanya Richards-Ross has called for change in the IOC
‘I believe the Olympic ideal and the Olympic reality are now different,’
Richards-Ross told a conference in the Olympic Park. ‘Six billion dollars are being traded here. I have been very fortunate to do well around the Olympics but so many of my peers struggle.’ She added that many athletes have second and third jobs.
Claim: Sanya Richards-Ross
The IOC insist that national Olympic associations impose contracts on all competitors forbidding them from even mentioning their own sponsors on social messaging in the month around the Games. In the US, it is called Rule 40.
The campaigners want restriction on mentions of sponsors lifted and product placement on clothing.
Mark Adams, the IOC director of communications, replied: ‘Those athletes lucky enough to have a high-profile sponsor can work with them throughout the four years. They have only one month where they can’t do that.
‘We are trying to protect the money that comes into the Olympic movement and 94 per cent of it is re-distributed to sport.’
He added: ‘I think the huge number of the 10,500 athletes who are here would understand why we’re doing this.’
The campaigners’ next move will be to back the candidacy of a sympathetic athlete standing for election to the IOC Athletes Commission during the Games.
But change is unlikely even in time for the 2016 Games, with the IOC jealously guarding its $5billion income over the past four years — and the figure set to grow.