Liam Morgan

Candidates for any high-profile role, both inside and outside of sport, are notorious for making promises and then failing to keep them.

Their manifestos are often littered with pledges and vows which are either unrealistic or that they have no intention of delivering.

While it is too early to judge Olle Dahlin's reign as President of the International Biathlon Union (IBU), the Swede has at least begun to buck that trend.

Dahlin, only the second head of the IBU in its turbulent and tumultuous 26-year history, cited a complete refresh of the organisation's constitution, and the creation of a clear future plan, as two of his principle targets.

In Munich last weekend, he fulfilled both aims, as members of the IBU approved a new constitution and a strategic plan, called "Target 26".

Such changes are essential for the IBU - it would have been negligent from Dahlin and his Executive Board members if they had not done so - as it attempts to distance itself from its scandal-tainted past.

The constitution, for example, was established when the IBU was born in 1993 and has undergone the odd piece of fine-tuning and tweaking since, leaving an outdated and archaic system which previous President Anders Besseberg was seemingly able to exploit.

Key elements of the new constitution include establishing the Biathlon Integrity Unit (BIU) - a move which mirrors the model used by the International Association of Athletics Federations - to manage all integrity related matters, including anti-doping, ethical breaches, betting-related issues and any other kind of result manipulation.

Olle Dahlin has been President of the IBU for just over a year ©Getty Images
Olle Dahlin has been President of the IBU for just over a year ©Getty Images

A maximum term limit of 12 years for all high-ranking officials has also been installed. In theory, this will ensure Dahlin is not able to enjoy the same monopoly of control that Besseberg, President for 25 years before his unceremonious departure amid corruption allegations, enjoyed.

All those elected, appointed or nominated as IBU staff, as members of the IBU Executive Board or an IBU Committee, will also be subjected to a "stringent" vetting process before they take up the position, remarkably something the IBU has never had before.

Dahlin said this would be the responsibility of the BIU, which held its first board meeting last Sunday (October 20).

Creating a system to ensure there is no repeat of the scandal involving Besseberg and former secretary general Nicole Resch - who both deny wrongdoing - appears to be the driver for change at the IBU.

"We have to learn from the past and we are making steps in the right direction to lift the IBU to the next level,” Dahlin told insidethegames in a phone interview this week.

"The IBU has a very strong position in sport and a good job has been done in the sport itself.

"Of course, there have been some bad things and that is another story but it is time now to work more strategically.

"We have to take a step into, as I called it in my manifesto, the new era and that is what we are aiming for together now.”

That step forward has happened even quicker than Dahlin had planned for. The initial timescale for the implementation of the new constitution and strategic plan - which outlines five key objectives - was next year at the earliest.

While the IBU appears to be heading in the right direction, Dahlin and his Executive Board are still having to deal with the fallout to old issues.

The Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) was relegated to provisional membership in December 2017 as punishment for the state-sponsored doping scandal and has yet to regain its full status with the IBU.

A total of 12 reinstatement criteria, which includes access to the raw data in the Moscow Laboratory, increasing drugs testing and cooperation with investigations into allegations doping cases involving Russian athletes were covered up, have been set by the IBU, which the RBU has so far failed to meet.

No timeline has been set for the RBU to adhere to the criteria but Dahlin and other officials are hoping the RBU returns sooner rather than later.

"The RBU takes these criteria seriously but it is not the time to tick off all the criteria - there are a couple where we want to see more results and implementation,” Dahlin said.

"I feel and see the progress and I hope it will continue.

"How long will this take? That is dependent on how fast the homework is done and that is the task of the RBU.

"So far, I am happy to see the progress they have made.

"Of course we want Russia back. In relation to the number of athletes they are the biggest biathlon nation.

"But they have to do their homework first and we of course hope they do this properly."

Allegations the data from the Moscow Laboratory may have been manipulated are particularly troubling for the IBU ©Getty Images
Allegations the data from the Moscow Laboratory may have been manipulated are particularly troubling for the IBU ©Getty Images

The IBU is also one of only three International Federations (IFs) to have sanctioned Russian athletes based on the Moscow Laboratory data and McLaren Report.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is investigating allegations the data was tampered with before Russia eventually handed it over, sparking concern among IFs over the impact of future cases involving those implicated in the state-sponsored system.

Dahlin said he would not speculate on what this meant for the IBU but said it would be a "disaster" if the accusations - which a senior Russian Anti-Doping Agency official has all-but admitted are true - are proven beyond doubt by WADA.

While a working group within the IBU continues to liaise with WADA, Dahlin and his leadership team plan to press ahead with their reform efforts.

As well as the constitution and strategic plan, the IBU also approved an additional €1 million (£866,000/$1.1 million) of funding to "support national federations", fulfilling another pledge of Dahlin in his manifesto, which cited increased revenues for investment in the development of biathlon worldwide.

"From our side, we have so far done what we promised,” Dahlin said.

Few would argue at this stage, but the job is far from done for Dahlin and the IBU.