Some of the biggest names in track and field are meeting to form a union because they are fighting to eliminate a rule against promoting, seeking prize money and want collective bargaining, reports ESPN.com.
Some of the biggest names in the sport, including Americans Sanya Richards-Ross and Bernard Lagat and Jamaican stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, are part of a movement that gained momentum during the London Games.
The athlete’s issue is Rule 40, an International Olympic Committee bylaw, which bans Olympic athletes from advertising for non-Olympic sponsors in the time period just before and during the Games.
“The whole (#WeDemandChange) Twitter rants has been an internal discussion we’ve had for years,” Richards-Ross told ESPN.com. “A lot of athletes in our sport are severely underpaid, hold two or three jobs just to train and stay in the sport, and what pushed me over the edge to get on board and mobilize was just seeing how much money was generated from the Olympic Games.”
Another issue is the lack of transparency when athletes are not involved in talks or decision making among the Olympic committee and sponsors.
“We’re really just trying to move the sport forward in a professional way,” Khadevis Robinson, a U.S. middle-distance runner and president of the Track and Field Athletes Association said. “At the end of the day, that’s all we’re trying to do and our hopes are that the USOC and IOC don’t see it as something negative because we don’t. But it’s time, it really is.”