The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) has said its members have shown substantial improvements after conducting its third governance review, with International Federations (IFs) grouped for the first time based on their total score.
The third edition of the governance review follows previous studies by ASOIF in 2017 and 2018.
A total of 31 IFs participated in the latest governance review, down from 33 in the second.
ASOIF said 32 questionnaires were distributed, with the International Boxing Federation not included.
One IF declined to participate, ASOIF said.
World Karate is not among the IFs listed to have participated in the survey.
The IFs were required to complete an updated self-assessment questionnaire between November 2019 and January 2020.
A total of 50 indicators were divided across the principles of transparency, integrity, democracy, control mechanisms and development and solidarity.
Each of the criteria was scored out of four, meaning a score of 200 was the highest possible for IFs to achieve.
Following the self-assessment, independent sports governance consultancy I Trust Sport reviewed the responses and moderated the scores.
ASOIF warned IFs last year that the third review would involve a more compliance-based concept, with greater transparency about their results amid pressure from the public, public authorities and the media.
This has led to ASOIF grouping the IFs into four categories based on their scores.
The Badminton World Federation, the International Equestrian Federation, FIFA, the International Tennis Federation, the International Cycling Union and World Rugby all feature in the A1 grouping.
The top six IFs all scored between 170 and 187 points in the questionnaire.
The International Basketball Federation, International Fencing Federation, International Table Tennis Federation, International Triathlon Union, United World Wrestling, World Athletics, World Sailing and World Taekwondo have all been ranked in the A2 category.
Each scored between 140 to 158 points.
The International Gymnastics Federation, International Hockey Federation, World Rowing, the International Volleyball Federation and the International Canoe Federation featured in category B.
The largest category also features the International Federation of Sport Climbing, the International Golf Federation, the International Handball Federation, the International Shooting Sport Federation, the International Modern Pentathlon Union and World Archery.
The 11 IFs in category B scored between 120 to 137 points.
The International Swimming Federation, the International Judo Federation, the International Surfing Association, the International Weightlifting Federation, the World Baseball Softball Confederation and World Skate were all included in category C.
The six IFs in the lowest ranked category scored between 84 to 119.
ASOIF say their target of 26 out of 28 full members reaching an overall score of 120 has "virtually been met", with the umbrella body saying 24 out of 27 achieved the threshold with two very close to that level and one below it.
Eighteen of the 31 IFs were found to have improved by 20 points or more, while a further nine gained more than 10 points.
Transparency was cited as the highest-scoring of the five categories overall, with high average scores across the full set of IFs.
This was aided by 26 of the 31 IFs now publishing at least one set of annual, externally audited accounts, while 16 have published some type of policy regarding allowances and expenses for officials and senior staff, compared to nine IFs in 2018.
ASOIF said there had been a significant increase in whistleblower systems since the previous report, with at least 15 IFs providing at least an email address or online reporting form offering anonymity.
A further 11 could demonstrate that a system was in place and that action had been taken in response to reports.
ASOIF added that 15 IFs are actively implementing a safeguarding policy, with the question added for this survey.
A further 11 have recent policies, with five working on adopting one.
Gender equality was also examined with only one IF having an Executive Board which was more than 40 per cent women.
It was found that 12 IFs had between 25 to 40 per cent female representation, plus rules or policies aimed at encouraging a greater gender balance.
A total of 10 IFs had between 15 to 25 per cent female representation, while eight had less than 15 per cent.
Term limits was the lowest scoring of the indicators in the survey, with nine IFs scoring zero due to having no limit in place for elected officials.
ASOIF's findings, as in the previous governance reviews, found IFs with term limits had a higher average score overall than those without.
Similarly, a number of IFs were found not to have an Audit Committee of any description, while independent members were lacking on some of those that are in place.
Federations' scores increased on sustainability issues, while some of the lowest scores were for the provision of legacy programmes, tendering exercises and monitoring the use of distributed funds.
These are considered harder for smaller IFs, with the review finding there is a correlation between higher scores in this assessment and IFs with greater resources in terms of staff and financial revenue.
ASOIF noted there are also exceptions that show high standards can be achieved with under 20 staff.
"A lot of progress has been achieved over the past years and the overall trend is clearly positive," said Francesco Ricci Bitti, ASOIF President and Governance Task Force chair.
"Certain reforms take longer to be implemented as they require changes to the statues or the approval of the General Assembly.
"The results we are sharing today are a snapshot of the current commitment of the IFs.
"The environment in which IFs operate has become more complex and subject to more scrutiny.
"The global health crisis further complicates the situation.
"Sports need to be well-governed to give themselves a better chance of thriving.
"It is my hope that the momentum will be maintained to tackle a number of areas where there is still significant room for improvement."
ASOIF said it will review the specific findings with each of the IFs, with a new assessment set to be scheduled.
The umbrella body said it will provide a set of good practice examples, while it will also launch a pilot study on organisational culture.
The full report can be accessed here.