International Athlete-led Movement launches to 'bring sport into 21st century'

New Athlete-led Movement called Global Athlete to inspire and lead positive change across the world of sport and to balance the power between athletes and sports administrators.

Rio 2016 Olympic Champion Callum Skinner to play leading role in mobilizing athletes following unprecedented athlete uprising calling for changes to the way sport is run.

Former WADA Deputy Director General Rob Koehler announced as Director General of new Movement.

Koehler pledges new Movement will "listen to, engage and empower athletes", adding "the time has come for a more representative and impactful voice for athletes. The status quo isn’t working. It’s time to give a more representative voice and meaningful role to athletes".

13 February 2019: A new international athlete-led movement for change launched today, aiming to inspire and drive change across the world of sport. Global Athlete will be a movement by athletes, for athletes aiming to collectively address the balance of power between athletes and sporting leaders, and enable athletes an opportunity for meaningful input into how sport is run.

Global Athlete will, in the words of Olympic Champion Callum Skinner, "inspire and change sport for the better and bring it into the twenty-first century" by mobilizing athletes following the recent unprecedented uprising in which athletes have called for enhanced rights and changes to the way sport is run.

In a sign of the ambitions of the new initiative, former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Deputy Director General, Rob Koehler has today been appointed as Director General, and will lead a "listening exercise" with athletes in all countries in the coming months to understand what changes they want to see in sport.

"No one knows sport better than the athletes on the field, track or water, and it is clear that many governing organisations need to have more meaningful engagement with athletes. Athletes’ voices should not be suppressed or manipulated to further personal aims. It’s time for the athlete voice to be embraced and empowered. We want what is best for the athletes and athletes want what is best for the sport," said Rio 2016 Team GB Cycling Gold Medalist, Callum Skinner.

"We want to reach out to athletes across the world to find common ground that all athletes, from east or west, can get behind. It may be issues such as better athlete welfare, harassment, ensuring that athletes receive some Olympic revenues or prize money, a more robust anti-doping system, or better representation at the top table of governance," added Skinner. "It’s 2019, and, frankly speaking, sports governance lags far behind other sectors of society in terms of engaging their constituents. As we’ve seen of late, athletes care deeply about how their sport is run, and they want an opportunity to provide input and to help shape sport’s future. A sporting landscape that it is democratic, representative and in-touch with wider society and opinion is critical to progress and staying relevant. I’m delighted to be joining Global Athlete, which will be a refreshing, positive, and meaningful force for change in world sport and we couldn’t have chosen a better person than Rob who is a trusted leader and an experienced advocate for athletes. I have full confidence he will deliver this mandate to the fullest," he added.

Global Athlete will operate as a progressive athlete rights movement whose job will be to listen to, engage and empower athletes, athlete groups and agents to speak up and work towards the common goal of addressing the disconnect that currently exists between the world’s athletes and sports leaders.

"Having worked closely with athletes and taken an athlete-centred approach to my work for over 20 years, I am thrilled to open this new chapter of my career," said Global Athlete Director General, Rob Koehler. "Everyone has a role to play to grow sport and that includes athletes who want a greater role at the decision-making level. For too many years, athletes have been sidelined when speaking up - the fear of retribution must stop. Athletes have an inherent interest in a healthy sporting environment and to leave sport in a better place then they found it. The long-term well-being of sport can only benefit from more meaningful athlete engagement. Athletes are the ones that fill the stadiums and attract TV viewership and sponsors; so surely it is only right that they become a part of developing the sport that they want. I want athletes to know that we are here to listen, engage and empower. There is a clear realisation that change has been demanded, and change is now coming," he added.

"In my role as Director General, I will be guided and led by athletes’ points of view, and I’m confident that following this listening exercise over the coming months, we will have a clear idea of the changes athletes want to see and how we will approach and secure that change," said Koehler.

Global Athlete is being funded initially by FairSport along with other individual donors whose desire is to drive change for a better athlete environment. Global Athlete is entirely independent from government, sport and National Anti-Doping Organizations. As such, the funders will have no part in the decision making or operations of the Movement; they have contributed because of their passion for sport and a desire to see improvements to athlete rights across the world of Olympic and non-Olympic Sport. This will be a movement led by athletes.

Athletes who are passionate about seeing change, and want to start a conversation on how they see the future of sport, are encouraged to sign-up at the Global Athlete website:


About Global Athlete

Global Athlete is a new international athlete-led movement aiming to inspire and drive change across the world of sport. As a movement run by athletes, for athletes, Global Athlete’s goal is to balance the power between athletes and sporting leaders, and to enable athletes to have their say about the way in which sport is run. Global Athlete aims to change sport for the better and bring it into the twenty-first century by mobilizing athletes, following the recent unprecedented uprising in which athletes have called for enhanced rights and changes to the way sport is governed.

Callum Skinner Biography

Inspired to take up cycling by the performances of Great Britain Olympian Sir Chris Hoy in 2004, just four years later Callum Skinner broke Hoy’s own British national 200-metre record for his age category and was presented with the inaugural Chris Hoy Trophy by his hero. Having been part of the British Cycling Senior Academy since 2010, the Scottish sprinter eventually earned selection to the Rio Olympic Games six years later, where he filled Hoy’s role as man three in the event in spectacular fashion, winning a gold medal in the team sprint and then adding a silver in the individual version. Callum has since endeavoured to use his platform-for-good in charitable, societal and sporting causes. In December 2017, Callum was appointed to the UK Anti-Doping Athletes Commission. In November 2018, Callum was elected by his fellow Team GB peers to the British Olympic Association Athletes Commission. Callum campaigned on a manifesto promising to improve athlete welfare, LGBT rights and promote a stronger stance against cheating in sport.

Rob Koehler Biography

Rob Koehler commenced his work in the sporting world working at a community level and quickly transitioned into a role with the Spirit of Sport Foundation in Canada by traveling across his home nation with Olympians in lead up to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. During this period, he promoted athlete involvement and engagement while at the same time teaching young people about the values of sport. Rob worked with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES) from 1997-2000. When the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was established in 1999, Rob took on a role as Chief Executive Officer of the Drug Free Sport Consortium whose role was to help WADA implement its first out-of-competition testing program leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. In 2002, he became a full-time employee at WADA and during his tenure held positions as a Deputy Director of Standards and Harmonization, Director of Education and Program Development and the agency’s Deputy Director General. Rob resigned from WADA in August 2018. During his time at WADA, he was a strong advocate of the athlete voice and during the last few years was responsible for working with the WADA Athlete Committee.

Media Information

For more information on Global Athlete, or for interview requests with Callum Skinner or Rob Koehler please contact Global Athlete Director of Communications, Ben Nichols:


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