A lack of female representation and term limits were highlighted as areas of weakness in the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federation’s (AIOWF) second governance review.
The AIOWF review assessed the governance of its seven member International Federations -biathlon, bobsleigh and skeleton, curling, ice hockey, ice skating, luge and skiing - with a questionnaire and evaluation process development by sports governance consultancy I Trust Sport.
Gender balance was cited as an area of weakness as only one Federation had more than 25 per cent female representation on their Executive Board.
The response followed a new question being added on gender balance this year.
The figure was claimed to follow a general pattern that many International Federarations have only one or two women on their Board, which is viewed as similar across both Association of Summer Olympic International Federation (ASOIF) and AIOWF members.
A major difference between the summer and winter International Federations was term limits, with 16 of the 28 summer bodies having had some form.
By contrast, only two of the winter governing bodies were found to have term limits.
Federations were not named in the report, but the majority have been led by Presidents on long and unrestricted terms.
International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) head René Fasel is the longest serving President of a winter International Federation, having lead the organisation since 1994.
A 12-year term limit will be imposed by the IIHF in 2020, when Switzerland’s Fasel reaches the age limit of 70 at the end of his sixth term in office
In June, Germany’s Josef Fendt was re-elected for a seventh term at the International Luge Federation, which would see him extend his reign to 28 years in charge of the organisation.
Switzerland’s Gian-Franco Kasper, AIOWF President, was elected for a sixth term as the International Ski Federation head in May which would see him remain in charge for 24 years.
It would also see the FIS have just four Presidents in 98 years, with the organisation having been founded back in 1924.
Britain’s Kate Caithness is due to be elected unopposed as World Curling Federation President for a third term next month, while Italy’s Ivo Ferriani comfortably won the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) election in June to take him into a third term.
The shortest serving winter International Federation President currently is The Netherlands’ Jan Dijkema, who is two years into his first term as the International Skating Union head.
He replaced Italy’s Ottavio Cinquanta, who relinquished his position after a 22-year spell.
The International Biathlon Union (IBU) are due to elect a new President next month, with Sweden’s Olle Dahlin facing Latvia’s Baiba Broka.
The election was sparked after Anders Besseberg stepped down as IBU President earlier this year after a criminal probe was opened which centred on possible doping, fraud and corruption concerning the alleged covering-up of positive drugs test involving Russian athletes.
Besseberg had led the IBU since 1992.
The AIOWF report saw Federations able to achieve maximum score of 200 based on 50 questions of equal weighting, with scores of between zero and four for each.
The Federations scores ranged from 89 to 150.
While AIOWF claim the sample size of seven for the study is too small to draw reliable conclusions on its own, the ASOIF report found a comparison of International Federations with no term limits to those with some type of limit in place suggested significant differences.
It was claimed those with some type of term limit in place achieved a mean score of about 132, while those without had around 95 points.
Mean scores for each separate section of the questionnaire - transparency, integrity, democracy, development and control mechanisms - were also found to be significantly higher among the International Federations which have a term limit in place.
The AIOWF report noted that term limits have been introduced by several world governing bodies as one component of a set of governance reforms, which they believe may may partly explain the large difference in scores between those with and without term limits.
While all seven International Federtions have rules in place for electoral processes, it was noted that only three of the winter sports have at least one athlete representative on the Executive Board, with one more Federation expected to follow shortly.
It was stated that the averages should be treated with caution due to the small sample size, but it was highlighted that only one winter International Federation was comparable to the best of the summer sports.
It was claimed the mean score achieved by International Federations increased by 16 points from last year, with the claim that there has been a notable improvements in AIOWF governance.
The lowest overall score was 89 in 2018, compared to 64 last year.
It was noted that with some amendments to the questionnaire from last year, the net outcome of the amendments was that this year’s edition was a few points more lenient.
Significant differences between International Federations in size and scale were stated as a factor that needed to be considered with the winter governing bodies, with staff numbers ranging from fewer than 10 full-time personnel to 70 or more.
It was found that the extent to which an International Federation published information had a wider impact on scores, with the assertion publishing more could provide a substantial boost to governing bodies on the lower end of the scale without the need for constitutional amendments.
All AIOWF members were found to have published their full constitution or statutes and information about their member national associations.
Information was found to be lacking in most cases about the allowances and financial benefits of officials and senior executives, although the seven International Federations were found to have provided at least listed basic details about their members.
Three winter sport International Federations published full, audited accounts, rising from two last year.
Another provide some financial information but was found to be falling short of full accounts.
The remaining three governing bodies were deemed to have provided "virtually no financial details".
Only one International Federation scored more than 1 - the category for partially fulfilled - for establishing “confidential reporting mechanisms for 'whistle blowers' with protection scheme for individuals coming forward”.
The review determined this score indicated the "implementation of confidential reporting mechanisms for whistleblowers is still in its early stages" but claimed progress had been made from last year.
Three International Federations have an Ethics Committee in place with a majority of independent representation that could propose sanctions, with one more expected to follow.
A further finding was that there was relatively little evidence of open tendering for contracts offered by governing bodies.
Transparency was the highest scoring of the five sections, although this was less marked for AIOWF members than for the summer sports.
The trend for the integrity and development sections producing the lowest scores on average was considered similar across the ASOIF and AIOWF studies.
Under integrity the indicator on anti-doping activity produced the highest average score, while provision of education programmes for coaches, judges, referees and athletes was the highest in development.
Less detail was reportedly provided about the finances of any redistribution programmes and other development activity.
"Perhaps the most positive finding is that there is extensive work going on to improve different aspects of governance," the report concludes.
"Several of the IFs introduced important reforms at the Congresses in 2018 and more are look set to follow in the months ahead with the support of governance taskforces and dedicated staff.
"Governance is an ongoing process and IFs are under more scrutiny than ever.
"It will require strong commitment from leaders and their teams for IFs to aim for and reach the high standards of governance which the public and the sports community have a right to expect.
"Policies and processes are an important component of governance but other factors play a huge role, including the culture and behaviour in an organisation and among its stakeholders.
Kasper, President of AIOWF , as well as the FIS, claimed the governance of the Federations would continue to evolve.
"Our Federations have embraced the governance review process and appreciate the valuable exchange of good practices,” the Swiss said.
"Even though we are seven autonomous organisations, the sharing of governance practices benefits the sports movement as a whole.
"The governance work is a key element of our role as International Federations that we will continue to evolve on an on-going basis."
The full review can be read here.