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USATF Code of Ethics
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Note: This document is intended to serve as a tool for understanding the USATF Code of Ethics. It is only a summary of the full Code of Ethics as approved by the Board of Directors. In any case where there is a discrepancy between this document and the Code of Ethics, the provisions of the Code of Ethics will prevail.

  1. Why is there a need for a Code of Ethics?
  2. Who must follow the Code of Ethics?
  3. What is a Conflict of Interest?
  4. What are examples of Conflicts of Interests?
  5. What are the major provisions of USATF's Code of Ethics?
  6. What happens if I personally have a Conflict of Interest?
  7. What should I do if I believe another Responsible Person has a Conflict of Interest?
  8. If a Responsible Person is accused of a Code of Ethics violation what should he/she do?
  9. What are the periodic "Code of Ethics Conflict Reporting Statement" disclosure requirements?
  10. Does our Code of Ethics apply when participating in committee and sub-committee meetings?
  11. Do our Code of Ethics provisions have the effect of law?
  12. Can an Ethics Committee Conflict of Interest decision be appealed?
  13. What is the composition of the Ethics Committee?
  14. Are Responsible Persons, who are also athletes, exempt from the Code of Ethics provisions?
  15. I am a Responsible Person; can I receive payments from USATF?
  16. I am a Responsible Person; can I receive payments or gifts or favors from Third Parties, Namely, Sponsors, Vendors, and Meet Organizers?
  17. Does our Code of Ethics meet USOC Ethics and Compliance Program requirements?

1. Why is there a need for a Code of Ethics?

It is the responsibility of USATF's Board and management to operate USATF in an ethical manner. To ensure continued confidence in our leadership in the sport of athletics in the United States and internationally, and because we operate in the public spotlight, we are expected to conduct our affairs on a basis consistent with the great trust that has been placed in us. This requires that our behavior conform to the highest ethical principles. USATF's Code of Ethics provides the guidelines for the identification of situations that present potential conflicts and how to avoid them. Also, we need to remember that a code is not a substitute for good and honorable people doing a difficult task to the best of their ability for the benefit of those who have entrusted them with this responsibility.

2. Who must follow the Code of Ethics?

All Responsible Persons must follow the Code. A "Responsible Person" is any person serving as a Board member, National Office employee, independent contractor, or member of a committee, sub-committee, council, task force or any other decision making body of USATF.

3. What is a Conflict of Interest?

A "Conflict" is any circumstance or behavior that is inconsistent with or in violation of any provision of the Code. For example, a conflict may occur when outside activities or personal interest interfere with or influence, or appear to interfere with or influence, a member's ability to objectively perform their job or to act or be perceived as having acted in the best interest of USATF.

4. What are examples of Conflicts of Interests?

The Code identifies potential financial conflict of interests (COI) that must be avoided, for example:

  1. Any transaction greater than $100 between USATF and a Responsible Person, except for out-of-pocket expense reimbursements and "honoraria" payments in excess of $2,000 annually.
  2. Soliciting or receiving gifts or favors in any form, including money, service, loans, travel, apparel, equipment, entertainment, hospitality or promise, under circumstances in which a reasonable person would inter that the gift was intended to or could reasonably be expected to influence the Responsible Person.

5. What are the major provisions of USATF's Code of Ethics?

  1. USATF requires all Responsible Persons to conduct business with integrity and to maintain a standard of ethical conduct consistent with the laws and regulations of all countries and jurisdictions in which we conduct business.
  2. The Code identifies required member business behavior, for example, honesty and integrity, fair treatment of everyone and respect of basic human rights.
  3. The Code also identifies potential financial conflict of interests that must be avoided and delineates disclosure and reporting requirements.
  4. Any information regarding a Responsible Person or a friend or Family Member shall be treated as confidential.

6. What happens if I personally have a Conflict of Interest?

If you have a conflict you must disclose it immediately for resolution to your committee or sub-committee chair. If this is uncomfortable or inappropriate, you can discuss the situation with USATF's Compliance Officer, or another member of management in the organization. You are always free to contact the USATF Independent and Confidential Ethics Help Line, online reporting mechanism, or any member of the Ethics Committee.

7. What should I do if I believe another Responsible Person has a Conflict of Interest?

To obtain guidance on an ethics issue or to report a concern, members may choose from several options. We encourage the resolution of issues at the local level. It is an expected good practice, when one is comfortable and thinks it appropriate under the circumstances, to raise concerns first within the context of that committee or sub-committee. If this is uncomfortable or inappropriate, the member may discuss the situation with the Compliance Officer, or another member of management. Members are always free to contact USATF's Independent and Confidential Ethics Help Line, online reporting mechanism, or any member of the Ethics Committee. All members are committed to ethical conduct and to correcting wrongdoing wherever it may occur in the organization. Every member has an individual responsibility for reporting any activity that appears to violate applicable laws, rules, regulations, policies, or our Code.

There is no retribution or discipline for anyone who reports a concern in good faith and all those that report will be treated with the utmost confidentiality.

8. If a Responsible Person is accused of a Code of Ethics violation what should he/she do?

Consistent with due process, the Responsible Person shall be given sufficient advance notice, in writing, both of the complaint and of the procedure such that he or she may be present, call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses against him or her and otherwise defend against the complaint. After conducting a hearing the Ethics Committee shall inform all appropriate parties of its decision within thirty business days after the hearing. Upon receipt of the decision the complainant or Responsible Person may appeal in accordance with Operating Regulation 11-P.

9. What are the periodic "Code of Ethics Conflict Reporting Statement" disclosure requirements?

  1. Members of all committees, sub-committees, councils, task forces and other decision making bodies must disclose all conflicts or potential conflicts to the chairperson prior to the discussion of applicable meeting subjects. This may be done verbally or by using the Conflict of Interest Reporting Statement.
  2. Members of USATF's Board of Directors and all standing committee or council chairs must submit a Code of Ethics Conflict Reporting Statement to the Ethics Committee once every year, even if no Conflicts exist, to participate in Board of Director or committee activities and meetings. The Conflicts Statement must include any potential or existing Conflicts of Interest.
  3. As Conflicts arise throughout the year, each Board Member or standing committee or council chair must submit an updated Code of Ethics Conflict Reporting Statement to the Ethics Committee immediately.

10. Does our Code of Ethics apply when participating in committee and sub-committee meetings?

If you have a conflict or one arises during your participation in a committee or subcommittee or any other decision-making body meeting you must disclose it immediately for resolution to the chairperson of the committee or other decision making body in which your are participating.

11. Do our Code of Ethics provisions have the effect of law?

A code of conduct outlines a set of principles or standards. These standards help an organization understand certain actions and what is to be done when corporate by-laws and other laws are ambiguous or subject to interpretation. Codes have legal standing, in that the standards articulated become evidence of an organization's expectations and intentions, with respect to the behavior of its members.

12. Can an Ethics Committee Conflict of Interest decision be appealed?

Upon receipt of the Ethics Committee's decision, the complainant or Responsible Person may appeal in accordance with Operating Regulation 11-P. Regulation 11-P can be viewed in its entirety on the USATF website.

13. What is the composition of the Ethics Committee?

The Ethics Committee is composed of active and retired athletes, an athletic director, a coach, two attorneys, and a business person. They liaise with USATF's Compliance Officer in the National Office.

14. Are Responsible Persons, who are also athletes, exempt from the Code of Ethics provisions?

A "Responsible Person" is any person serving as a Board member, National Office employee, independent contractor, or member of a committee, sub-committee, council, task force or any other decision making body of USATF. There are no exceptions for athletes.

15. I am a Responsible Person; can I receive payments from USATF?

Any payment between USATF and a Responsible Person that is greater than $100 per year creates a Conflict of Interest. However, there are several exceptions:

  1. Expense reimbursements as long as such payments comply with Board approved expense and other policies, and
  2. Amounts paid to individuals for programs requiring a particular expertise necessary to achieve the program's objectives. These amounts are limited to an aggregate of $2,000 in any calendar year. A Responsible Person shall not take part in any decision resulting in his or her receipt of payment. Note that the Board passed a motion on October 15, 2006 stating that "the National Office may not make cumulative payments that may cause a potential violation of the code without prior Board approval."
  3. Prize money paid to athletes based on their competitive performance.
  4. Appearance fees paid to athletes from sponsorship dollars as designated in the sponsorship contract.

16. I am a Responsible Person; can I receive payments or gifts or favors from Third Parties, Namely, Sponsors, Vendors, and Meet Organizers?

A Responsible Person soliciting or receiving gifts or favors in any form, including money, services, loans, travel, apparel, equipment, entertainment, hospitality or promise, under circumstances in which a reasonable person would infer that the gift was intended to or could reasonably be expected to influence the Responsible Person in the performance of his or her official duties, or was intended as a reward for any official action on his or her part creates a Conflict of Interest. All such instances shall be reported to the Ethics Committee regardless of value, except for:

  1. The acceptance of items or entertainment/hospitality of less than $100 which are not related to, nor appear to be related to, any particular transaction or activity of USATF.
  2. Athletes and coaches with disclosed arrangements or contracts with suppliers and or sponsors that occur in the normal course of business.
  3. The acceptance by athletes or National Team staff of team gear, merchandise and equipment provided to all such persons in the normal course of participating on a National Team.

17. Does our Code of Ethics meet USOC Ethics and Compliance Program requirements?

The USOC Code of Conduct applies to all representatives of USOC member organizations when dealing with the USOC. USATF's Code of Ethics conflict of interest provisions are quite similar to the USOC's. For example, receiving discounts or personal gifts from actual or potential suppliers or customers with a value in excess of $100 annually is a conflict of interest. In addition, members must report suspected violations, issues and concerns to their supervisor, committee or sub-committee chair, Ethics Compliance Officer, or another member of management. They may also use the Ethics Help Line, online reporting mechanism, or contact any member of the Ethics Committee.

Both Codes show that members are not expected to know the answer to each and every question or unique situations. Members are expected, however, to seek advice or clarification promptly when they are uncertain about proper actions or practices.

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