The IBU has launched a new gender equality policy ©IBU

The International Biathlon Union (IBU) is targeting increasing the number of women within its decision making bodies by 2026 as part of its new gender equality policy.

Nine of the 10 IBU Executive Board members are men - the only woman on the body is American Clare Egan, who has a place owing to her position as the chair of the Athletes' Commission.

The IBU has pledged to "ensure that women are recruited to senior management governance and leadership positions and are assigned roles of influence with decision-making responsibilities" in its new policy.

It has also vowed to "entrench gender equality in national and international biathlon organisations through statutes, policies and the electoral process."

Increasing the recruitment and development of women coaches, referees, and officials "at the highest level of the sport while keeping the existing equal balance in international competition participation, formats and sport technical rules, and equal pay" is among the other key vows in the policy.

IBU Athletes' Commission chair Clare Egan is the only female member of the Executive Board ©Getty Images
IBU Athletes' Commission chair Clare Egan is the only female member of the Executive Board ©Getty Images

The IBU launched the policy prior to the single mixed relay at the Biathlon World Championships, where women ran the last leg of the race for the first time.

"Our strategic plan Target 26, which was developed and approved by the global biathlon family, made it clear that promoting gender equality is a strategic priority for the IBU," said IBU President Olle Dahlin.

"With the launch of our gender equality policy we now have a structure in place that will allow us to ensure that biathlon is a sport free of gender discrimination and a sport that promotes equality at all levels of its management.

"We are at our strongest when we welcome the diversity of insights and perspectives of all members of our biathlon family - women and men. 

"We know we have more work to do but this policy will formalise our commitment to encouraging and supporting women’s participation in biathlon at all levels so that we can implement the principle of equality for men and women."

Gender equality has been a hot topic in the Olympic Movement in recent weeks following the furore caused by Yoshirō Mori, who was pressured to resign as Tokyo 2020 President after making sexist comments about women.

The Olympic Movement has faced criticism for a lack of female representation in senior roles as only three of the 33 International Federations governing summer and winter Olympic sports are led by a woman.