Athletics: Former S'pore Hockey Federation president takes on IAAF role

She has been an athlete, a technical official, a president of a national sports association, and still holds other roles in the Singapore National Olympic Council, International Hockey Federation and the Olympic Council of Asia.

Now, veteran sports administrator Annabel Pennefather will have another feather to her cap.

Along with former South African judge Catherine O'Regan, the senior consultant at Withers KhattarWong was appointed to the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) Ethics Commission on a four-year term on Wednesday.

Pennefather said that a fellow lawyer alerted her to the opportunity, and encouraged the former Singapore Hockey Federation president to take up the role.

The appointments of both Pennefather and O'Regan were approved by IAAF president Sebastian Coe and the IAAF Council last month. The Ethics Commission acts to safeguard the authenticity and integrity in athletics and investigates cases of misconduct and breaches of ethics in the sport.

The sport has been rocked by several scandals recently - Russia's state-sanctioned doping, corruption charges against former IAAF president Lamine Diack, as well as allegations of unethical behaviour against Coe's right-hand man Nick Davies.


In a statement announcing the appointment of its two new members, the Ethics Commission said: "The Ethics Commission welcomes these strong additions to its number at a time when the sport of athletics is facing particular challenges, and in the light of the Ethics Commission's important current and prospective work."

While she declined to comment on these cases due to "confidentiality" issues and the need to go through the chain of command, Pennefather, who is in her 60s, is up for the challenge.

She said: "If things need to change, and you're in a position to help, then you should be part of that change.

"There will be challenges ahead but, having been a sportswoman before, I shouldn't be scared of challenges.

"I will give my best and do all I can to fly the Singapore flag high, and hopefully make a difference."

She said not all nine members of the Ethics Commission, headed by Queen's Counsel Michael Beloff, are involved in every case that comes their way, and is awaiting instructions from Beloff.

In the meantime, Pennefather has been busy familiarising herself with the IAAF's Code of Ethics, and keeping abreast with developments in the sport.

She feels that her background in hockey, and not athletics, may be useful in her new role.

She said: "(This role) is about the application of a Code of Ethics, and not a technical role... and, coming from a different background, I may be able to offer different perspectives to a situation as well."

This article was first published on Jan 8, 2016.
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