International Biathlon Union
|International Biathlon Union|
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) was founded on 2 July 1993. This occurred when the National Biathlon Union in London/Heathrow decided to exclude biathlon from the World federation UIPMB (Union de Pentathlon Moderne et Biathlon), which it had been part of since 1953, forcing biathlon to form their own international federation. During the congress the new federation elected their executive committee and the 57 existing members of the UIPMB were automatically transferred to the IBU. However the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not recognise the IBU as an international Olympic winter sport federation until August 1998. In the same year the General Assembly International Sports Federations (GAISF) declared the IBU as a proper member.
The IBU settled in Salzburg, Austria in June 1999.
A congress is held every two years, and is considered the most important organ of the IBU according to its constitution. The first congress was held in Salzburg, in 1994, then in Östersund, Sweden in 1996, Salzburg, Austria in 1998, Calgary, Canada in 2000, Nice, France in 2002, and the 2004 congress was held in Varna, Bulgaria. The first extensive board meeting took place in August 1993 in Darmstadt, Germany. Since then over 50 board meetings have been held.
Since the foundation of the IBU, seven World Championships for men and women have been held, and ten junior World Championships. There has also been two youth World Championships held, beginning in 2002. There has been 84 World Cups, and the European Championships have been conducted for both senior and junior athletes since the 1994/95 season.
The first summer biathlon World Championships took place in Hochfilzen, Austria in 1996. During the 1999/2000 season the IBU assumed the management of archery biathlon from FITA, and archery biathlon World Cups and World Championships have been held since 2002.
In the first Winter Olympics in which biathlon was included there were three events and up until the 2006 games, four, but in the 2006 games there were five.
In August 1993 a Secretary-General was appointed, and a secretary for the staff added in 1995. A World Cup coordinator was put in place in the 1997/98 season, in order to keep standards high. This coordinator was promoted to sports director before the start of the 2002/03 season. In April 2001 a communication director position was created to handle the part of communication and media, and for the partner and supplier area. In March 2001 the chairman of the IBU legal committee is responsible for all legal interests, as the legal advisor for the IBU.
The IBU is a non-profit organization, in the sense that the IBU's income would be spread among the athletes, and especially those who had fared worst with the end of the Soviet Union. The IBU has contracts with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) and APF Marketing Services. There are sponsor advertisements along all the biathlon courses, the most notable ones being Viessmann, Bauhaus, Krombacher, Toyota, Adidas, and E.ON Ruhrgas/ Erdgas, who is the main sponsor. IFS (software solutions) acts as Official Data Partner and Polar (heart rate monitors) as Timing Partner benefitting from visibility in all TV graphics relating to time measurement. Most of the sponsors are German, Scandinavian, and Eastern European, where most of the interest in biathlon is. The IBU keep their administrative expenses at a minimum, and have created a financial reserve, so that if losses in income occur, such as a cancellation of an Olympic Games, the IBU would be able to draw on the reserve to ensure the survival of biathlon.
The biathlon events most people are familiar with are the World Cup events, which is the season for the elite athletes; there is a second class season called the Europa Cup which has existed since the IBU's foundation. The men and women that finish in the top ten in the overall leader board have their travel and accommodation paid for the next season by the IBU.
During the 2002/03 season EUR 2.7 million (USD 3.4 million) was made available for bonuses and competition participation, development programmes, bonuses for events, free access of data and result services, and free execution of the accredition. In the 1994/95 season prize money awarded in World Cup events was 1500DM (2900EUR) for first place, 1000DM (2000EUR) for second place and 500DM (980EUR) for third place. However due to an increase in sponsorship money, increased attendance, and television audience, prize money for first place is now 9000EUR (7000USD), and over EUR 1.69 million (USD 1.3 million) was made available for prize money.
In 1996, as part of the IBU development project, partnership contracts were established with some companies, which supplied free materials and equipment, to the less fortunate member federations. The IBU now has partnership contracts with five companies, and equipment contracts with fifteen. These contracts insure the IBU can supply free, good quality clothing and equipment in large quantities to national federations. And during the 2002/03 season the IBU secured a contract with VW-Sponsoring, so that VW-busses are available to most of the teams taking part in IBU competitions.