Democratization and governance in international sport: addressing issues with athlete involvement in organizational policy

Lucie Thibault, Lisa Kihl, Kathy Babiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Leaders of national and international sport organizations are increasingly recognising the importance of involving stakeholders in the development of policies. In the governance of international high performance sport, an important group of stakeholders includes athletes. The purpose of this paper is to highlight and discuss the increasing role high performance athletes are playing in the development of policies in international sport organizations. 1 We examine how representation and deliberative participation in policy making allow high performance athletes to not only be represented at policy meetings, but also be involved in the formation of policies that affect them. To showcase athletes' representation and participation in sport policy, a number of international sport examples are presented (i.e. winter and summer Olympic international sport federations as well as the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee, and the World Anti-Doping Agency). Several organizations have incorporated more athlete centred practices that have allowed for greater involvement from athletes. In investigating these cases, we discuss and critique issues, and provide practical recommendations surrounding athlete representation and participation in deliberations and their impact on the policy and decision-making processes of their international sport federation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-302
Number of pages28
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Athlete-centred
  • Decision making
  • Deliberative democracy
  • International sport federations
  • Policy making
  • Representation


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