Liam Morgan

International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) President Vladimir Lisin will be hoping it is second time lucky when the General Assembly votes on a proposed new constitution in December.

The Russian billionaire, one of the world’s wealthiest people, spearheaded the last attempted radical overhaul of the ISSF constitution back in 2016, when he was a vice-president of the worldwide body.

Lisin's plan, however, was rejected by the membership at the 2016 General Assembly after it failed to pass by just seven votes.

A quick scan of the latest document, a draft of which has been seen by insidethegames, suggests the ISSF – which those within the federation believe is operating under archaic and outdated statutes – may be taking a step in the right direction.

But more detailed analysis gives the perception of a President attempting to enhance his control and influence over the ISSF to ensure he remains at the helm for as long as possible.

Political manoeuvres and amendments which could have considerable consequences for some of the smaller members of the ISSF, particularly when it comes to elections, are also evident in the draft.

When reading through the 23-page document, the section on membership certainly catches the eye.

Vladimir Lisin was tasked with overhauling the constitution in 2016 but the document was rejected ©ISSF
Vladimir Lisin was tasked with overhauling the constitution in 2016 but the document was rejected ©ISSF

A line which reads "membership is open to one member federation from each country" may not appear noteworthy, but for the ISSF, this represents a significant, and some feel overdue, change.

The ISSF is one of the few worldwide sports bodies which grants a place at the table to more than one federation from each country. This ends if the new constitution is adopted.

The 13 nations who have this status would only be able to retain dual membership until December 31 2021, and must gradually phase out one of the two federations before that deadline.

While this looks to be a positive move towards eradicating what one official described as the trend of "zombie federations being resurrected purely for elections", the proposed alterations come with a worrying caveat for the smaller countries.

Put simply, it seems the ISSF is trying to create two classes of members – one with full voting rights, including in elections, and one without.

As part of the two-tier system, the "full members" would be given voting privileges, while the "associates" would not. Who falls into which category would likely be decided by the ISSF and its ruling Executive Committee.

This could have drastic consequences for smaller countries, who would almost certainly be relegated to associate membership and would lose what they feel is their standing and value within the ISSF.

The proposed changes could have a drastic effect on the ISSF membership ©ISSF
The proposed changes could have a drastic effect on the ISSF membership ©ISSF

Another important change concerns the abolition of proxy votes aside from those coming from the same country. As the document states, "members may represent the other member from the same country by proxy, which must be given in writing".

"Apart from that, representation of members by proxy is not allowed," the draft reads.

Proxy voting, covered expertly by my colleague David Owen earlier this week, remains a bone of contention for defeated Presidential candidate Luciano Rossi, who is appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to annul the result of last year's election, where he lost to Lisin by just four votes.

Rossi is basing his appeal on the issues with the proxy system under the current constitution. The ISSF deserve credit for addressing the problem but some, including the Italian, may legitimately claim it is too little, too late.

Should the new statutes be given the green light, the Italian's argument may feasibly have never got off the ground.

A proposal has been made to initiate a 21-day time limit from the contested decision to the filing of any appeal. Rossi's was submitted nearly 10 full months after the election and would therefore have been inadmissible under the possible new rules.

It seems inevitable that Rossi – who is at the centre of a bitter Italian-Russian feud with Lisin which has escalated with the CAS appeal and even stretched to the organisation’s official social media channels – will be opposed to this amendment.

Some may interpret it as the ISSF leadership making sure its decisions are difficult to legally contest. The 21-day limit effectively reduces the appellants' chances of winning – they would perhaps even struggle to put together a strong case in that time frame.

The above is among the statute changes likely to divide opinion, but the membership should unite behind a proposal to install a 12-year term limit for any elected role within the ISSF, including the Presidency.

Olegario Vázquez Raña, left, served as ISSF President for 38 years ©ISSF
Olegario Vázquez Raña, left, served as ISSF President for 38 years ©ISSF

Amid all the talk of "good governance" and pleas from the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations to all of its members to bring their practices in line with current standards, it is staggering that the ISSF has never before restricted officials to how long they can serve in their position.

This failure previously allowed Mexican Olegario Vázquez Raña to remain President for 38 years – far, far too long by anyone’s standards.

Twelve years is the accepted model in sport and in other sectors. Three four-year terms enables the head of the organisation to initiate real change if they so desire, before passing the torch on to someone else.

This, in theory, means the top brass are constantly refreshed and should limit the chance of corruption, which has plagued many a federation who have empowered a culture of monopolisation in recent years.

An age limit of 75 at the time of election has also been put forward in the draft, which could be updated next week before it is presented to the ISSF Executive Committee at its October 4 meeting.

The ISSF will also exclude members, or any officials, if they are found to have abetted doping from one of their athletes, while the secretary general role is set to change from an elected to an appointed position, both of which are sensible and credible proposals.

A prevailing theme later in the draft is the ISSF and its President wanting to shift more power towards its Continental Confederations, one of which is led by Lisin himself.

Luciano Rossi has been at the centre of a feud with the ISSF and Vladimir Lisin ©ISSF
Luciano Rossi has been at the centre of a feud with the ISSF and Vladimir Lisin ©ISSF

One of the suggestions would see each continent given a certain amount of places on the Council – the second legislative body of the ISSF which deals with general regulations, ethics and anti-doping, among others – on a sliding scale depending on the amount of its members.

For example, the confederation with the most members – Europe – would be handed more places on the Council than other regions with less.

It is no coincidence that the European Shooting Confederation, headed by Lisin, would be granted increased sway in the ISSF's decision-making process. Some suggest it is a power-move to ensure the Russian fills key roles within the organisation with his tried and trusted allies.

The amendments are unlikely to be passed without discussion and debate. insidethegames understands there are those who believe it will fail to receive a majority at the General Assembly in Munich in December, as several of the amendments represent "turkeys voting for Christmas".

Lisin knows the feeling of rejection when it comes to the constitution more than most and will be desperate for a different outcome this time around.