The International Canoe Federation Congress has unanimously embraced an athlete rights charter and a blueprint designed to futureproof paddle sports on a busy day of discussions in Pattaya, Thailand.

Congress also endorsed transferring the ICF’s in-house drug testing role to the International Testing Agency to strengthen its fight against doping.

ICF Athletes Committee Chair Bridgitte Hartley urged Congress to embrace the declaration of athlete rights and responsibilities to ensure the paddling community has a stronger voice in its future.

She said supporting the declaration would make sure issues that are important to athletes, continue to be heard by sport leaders.

The declaration was developed by athletes and for athletes, to tackle issues like integrity and clean sport, governance and communication, careers, safeguarding and competition.

The ICF’s Fit For Future strategy identifies eight pillars which are integral to the future growth of canoe sports around the world, drawn together after several months of consultations with outside experts, national federations and other key stakeholders.

In presenting the strategy to Congress, ICF vice-president Cecilia Farias emphasized the FFF plan was not a finished product, but a living document that could be constantly updated to adapt to changes within paddle sports and also globally.

The pillars identified in the FFF document are athlete safety and wellbeing, governance, maximizing synergies, global development, sustainability, brand marketing and communication, competitions and revenue generation.

The decision to transfer the ICF’s drug-testing program to the International Testing Agency was also supported unanimously by Congress. ICF President, Thomas Konietzko, said working with the ITA was a natural next step for a sport that continues to lead the world in the fight against doping.

Congress also endorsed honorary memberships for a quartet of long-time ICF leaders – Frank Garner and Don McKenzie (Canada), Shoken Narita (Japan) and posthumously, Joao Tomasini of Brazil.

The 39th ICF Congress finishes on Saturday.

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