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