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UK Athletics

Athlete contracts

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Athlete contracts have now been issued to athletes on the World Class Podium and Development programmes and a sample can be viewed on the UK Athletics Website. Below are some frequently asked questions to help you understand the subject:


Why is UK Athletics (UKA) introducing athlete contracts?


The contract brings together the requirements of the UK Sport Performance Athlete Agreement, the UKA Televised Event Agreement and UKA commercial and ambassadorial agreements under one connected and coordinated structure.  The contracts ensure both UKA and the athletes become more accountable. 


Is this a contract of employment?


Athlete contracts are not a contract of employment and the signing of them will not create an employment relationship between athletes and UKA.


What is the contract then?


A legally binding agreement between UKA and athletes that clearly identifies obligations in relation to both the World Class Pathway and UKA related commercial activities.


Who is the contract for?


There are two contracts, one for athletes who are on the World Class Pathway and a revised version for athletes who are selected for the Great Britain and Northern Ireland team (non-lottery funded).


How many athletes are involved?


In any given year 400 to 500 athletes could be on a UKA contract. That includes those on the World Class Pathway, and those who may be selected for GB and NI teams.

When do the contracts have to be signed by?

Contracts have been sent to all World Class Podium and Development Athletes and have to be returned signed by Wednesday 28 June 2006.   Contracts for World Class Talent athletes will be sent out to them early in July following confirmation of their funding.

GB and NI team contracts will be sent out as and when an individual is selected for the GB and NI team.  The only exceptions to this will be athletes who are in receipt of UKA performance funding who will receive their contracts in July.


Do athletes have to sign the contract?


Athletes must sign the agreement in order to receive benefits of the contract such as lottery funding and services, UKA commercial benefits, and eligibility for a televised event agreement.


What happens if they don’t sign?


Any athlete who does not sign will not be able to receive lottery funding, access to support services as part of the World Class Pathway Programme, commercial funding and support from UKA, or be selected to receive a televised event agreement.


What if a large number of athletes refuse to sign. Will contracts be abandoned? 


No - it is a condition of UK Sport that athletes sign a Performance Athlete Agreement as defined in our contract. To abandon athlete contracts would lead to the funding, support and back-up it provides being withdrawn from athletes

Also this is about developing a change in culture and an increase in accountability. In addition we have committed ourselves to a review process to assess how the contracts are working and any areas of real concern can be looked at.


How long do contracts last for?


The contract for those who are in receipt of lottery funding will last for the term of the lottery cycle - i.e. for these contracts until 31 March 2009.  GB and NI team contracts will last for one year following selection. As stated above – we have committed ourselves to a review process  on how the contracts are working so that any areas of concern can be looked at.


What does the contract include?


The contract includes a series of obligations for UKA and the athlete in a number of areas.  UKA has to meet obligations in relation to :

-         the World Class Pathway

-         Commercial and Communication activities

-         policies and procedures, (i.e. selection, de-selection, anti- doping etc).

Athletes have identified obligations in the following categories:

-        code of conduct

-        training and competition

-        availability for selection

-        fitness, injury and illness

-        anti-doping

-        clothing and equipment

-        commercial and equipment.


What constitutes an athlete appearance?


Each athlete is contracted to provide up to 3 full days in support of the National Lottery or their funding partners (those on the World Class Pathway only); 2 days in support of UK Athletics and/or their Commercial Partners and 1 day in support of the Athletics Foundation.  A day can be up to 8 hours including travelling time.

An appearance can be for a promotion, meeting, photo shoot, interview, filming, charitable event, school visit, club visit, political lobbying or other event.  It could also be written articles for publication on the UKA website or in UKA publications and/or the use of the athletes name or image to support a programme or event.


Are athletes obliged to make any appearance over and above those contracted?


UKA can request up to an additional 6 appearances from an athlete at agreed rate although the athlete is not obliged to provide these appearances.  Athletes have been categorised into four groups for these payments depending upon their performances and media value - The Podium, Achievers/Up and Coming, Lottery Funded and GB and NI team (non lottery funded). 


What duties are athletes asked to carry out as a member of the GB and NI Team?


If selected for the GB and NI team, athletes are requested to carry out the following official GB and NI team duties wearing GB and NI team kit:

-            press conferences / announcements relating to team selection

-     all elements of team travel

-     send off’s and homecomings

-     photo shoots promoting a Commercial Partner held at send offs, homecomings, during travel, training and at holding camps

-     opening and closing ceremonies

-     GB and NI team competition within main stadium and warm up areas

-     GB and NI team training/holding camps

-     media activity relating to GB and NI team including press conferences relating to the announcement of injury, illness or retirement; media interviews during training/holding camps organised by UKA or a Commercial Partner; media activity at warm up, stadium venues and within mixed zones and press conferences relating to post event analysis

-     activities associated with the promotion of the World Class Pathway at the contractual events

-     official team photo shoots and kit launches

-     promotion / announcements of GB and NI team events on behalf of UKA.


What do the contracts mean in terms of selection?


Athletes agree to be available for selection for the National Trials, the European Track and Field Cup, and the major international event of that year - Olympics, Paralympics, World, European or equivalent age-group event.  For disabled athletes this is 2 events.

Athletes who participle in the indoor season are required to be available for the National Indoor Trial and the major event of that year.  Athletes who participate in Cross Country are required to be available for the European and/or World Cross Country Championships.


Can athletes still expect to be selected if they have not signed contracts?


Yes - policies are in place for selection and de-selection and these will be adhered to.  Team selection will be on performance and all athletes will be judged on merit, not on whether or not they have signed a contract


Do the contracts cover athletes making public statements?


Within the contract there are clauses to be adhered to by both UKA and athlete in relation to not making public statements that are detrimental to the reputation of the athlete, derogatory and/or offensive in relation to the athlete, UKA, the World Class Pathway or a Commercial Partner.  The exception to this is of course “fair comment”.

Of course, if an athlete has a genuine grievance there is a disciplinary and grievance document which will outline the process for resolution.  Grievances will be investigated by an independent investigating officer within a set time period. The athlete panel will also have a role to play in resolving disputes fairly.

There are ways to deal with disputes and one would ask why someone feels that speaking to the media is the only method of voicing a grievance.

Also why should we encourage someone to openly criticise the NGB, or key funders who are providing support for them?  The emphasis is on ensuring professionals behave professionally.


What other benefits will the contracts provide?


Performance Bonus Payments will be made on an annual basis to athletes who achieve podium, or in some cases top 8 placings, at identified competitions. 

We are also working with our Commercial Partners to identify further benefits for the athletes, such as preferential rates and discounted goods etc


For more information please contact UK Athletics Special Projects Manager Caroline Smith on csmith@ukathletics.org.uk