Q&A with Germany’s Margit Jungmann, candidate for WMA president

Margit Jungmann

Margit Jungmann

Margit Jungmann lives in the French border town of Rehlingen, Germany. She studied French and physical education at the universities of Saarbrucken and Tours (France) and became a French and sports teacher after college.

“In 1986, I entered in regional administration of sports and education where I had a successful career up to now,” she said. “Actually I am the director of education, construction/building and sports.”

Margit provided no marks but said her favorite event was the heptathlon, especially high jump and sprints.

“I was always happy to compete in relays and teams,” she said. “I appreciated always team success more than personal best performance.”

She says she never “competed on a higher national or international level as a masters athlete” but finally joined the masters movement when she became president of German masters 12 years ago.

“By the way, I stepped down for the 31st of August to avoid any conflict of interest.”

MASTERSTRACK.BLOG: Why do you want to be president of WMA? Who is supporting or endorsing your candidacy?

MARGIT JUNGMANN: My motivation to run as president is the fact that I want to continue the work I started as [WMA] executive vice-president. I spend a lot of time and energy in masters athletics, especially in organizational matters, since 2013.

With the WMA team, we created a lot of progress in the last years. I now feel ready and experienced to lead the team. We need to continue the way to more professionalism. I am convinced that I can serve the organization at that position and develop masters athletics. And why WMA should not have for the first time in its history a female president?

I am supported by my federation. A lot of people I worked with in the last years encouraged me to run as president. And last but not least my husband and my boss are supporting my candidacy.

What three things do you want to accomplish in your term as president?

WMA needs to develop rules of good governance. We need to develop better communication and marketing strategy. And we must develop a clear anti-doping strategy including prevention and information.

How would you perform better as a president than your opponents?

I am convinced that the experience in work on world level is very important to fulfill the challenge. I have this experience. We need continuity that I can guarantee. But you can be sure that at the same time I will have a different and own style of leadership.

How are you making your case to the affiliates? What can you do for the affiliates? 

As I entered in masters athletics as team manager of Germany, I know very well the needs of affiliates. My colleagues from all over the world know that I never looked only after the German athletes and interest.

My concern from the beginning was the interest of all athletes, Affiliates know that they can contact me and get support. WMA has to use more the regional bodies, so as president I would like to strengthen the regional bodies to support the affiliates in their region.

What are the biggest concerns of affiliates, and how can you best deliver on solutions?

This is very different between the continents. Some affiliates are members of IAAF, others are independent from the IAAF member. We have affiliates with a professional organization behind and some even don’t have an office. The affiliates have different concerns and situation so there never can be one solution. We will have to understand the needs and support where needed.

Should WMA hold world masters athletics championships in China? Should WMA return to South America or Africa for its outdoor championships?

IAAF Championships in Beijing 2015 (with masters races) were a big success. I really would appreciate China offering a candidacy for masters in the future. This country has a lot of potential in masters athletics.

We had, from today’s view, successful championships in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Most of the athletes kept a positive souvenir. WMA took a good lesson of that experience which was a challenge and not easy for WMA.

But if the region is strong and supporting a candidacy in South America and WMA continues to work with a professional competition team, I am positive [WMA can] go back to South America.

Africa for the moment has a lot of problems to organize its own regional championships. In case I am elected, I will see how WMA can support the development in Africa. As public health is an increasing topic in Africa, I can imagine that masters athletics can be a partner for the development of lifelong sports in Africa.

Should WMA lobby for masters exhibition events in the Olympics and make sure masters events always occur in IAAF indoor and outdoor world championships?

Yes, we have to lobby for that, first in IAAF championships. After the positive experiences with the races in Beijing and Portland, IAAF masters commission under the leadership of Cesar Moreno Bravo and WMA council were convinced that we made a big progress within IAAF.

But unfortunately, due to the problems in IAAF, the masters’ competitions were stopped. We will have to continue the fight to come back as an important part of the athletics family.

How serious or widespread is doping in masters athletics?

We don’t really know how widespread doping is because we don’t have the funding or facilities to [test] outside of competition. Therefore, those who know how to cheat still can escape at the moment by stopping before competitions.

We do however, catch some competitors in competition but these are small in number. Some younger athletes, 35 to 45, do get caught regularly if they are competing at senior level internationally.

What would you do to combat doping beyond what is being done now?

We already do drug-testing and EPO tests during competition. With Dr. [Stephen] Peters as responsible person for Anti-Doping Commission, we are trying to establish out-of-competition testing (with IAAF) to target athletes. It is still difficult to set up a system for out-of-competition testing because of the costs and administration involved, but I will continue this work.

People don’t cheat if they have morals and principles. We could push hard to try and emphasize this. Regions and affiliates have movements like “100% me” or “True Athletes” and so on. Why not WMA developing its own movement?

Should the oldest age groups — over 80 — be subject to drug-testing at WMA events? 

Yes, all age groups have to be subject of drug-testing. Sorry, but I think this is an age discriminating question. The suggestion is “why bother because no one cares if they cheat.” If that would be our approach, then why bother with anyone over 35? Cheating is cheating at any age. Why would we be ageist?

Will you commit to sharing detailed audits of WMA finances? Should athletes have a right to know how WMA officers are spending and investing WMA revenues? (Financial statements have not been posted on WMA website since 2010, and they are not detailed.)

According to the WMA By-Laws, here is how the detailed audits of WMA finances are shared: the WMA finances, meaning the bookkeeping and the financial statements, are audited by independent auditors nominated by the Council. 

KPMG is our current auditor. WMA treasurer shall give the auditors all necessary access to the accounts and bookkeeping as well as all clarifications and explanations they need. The audit shall be the subject of a written report provided to the [WMA] Council prior to presentation to the General Assembly.

The extent of the audit work performed shall be summarized and detailed in the report, which shall provide an opinion as to the financial statements.

Before the General Assembly, the delegates are provided the GA booklet containing the auditor’s report, the treasurer report and the financial statements. These documents are listed as items of the agenda of the General Assembly, so each delegate has the possibility to ask questions about the WMA finances. The treasurer or other officer will give the appropriate answer.

This is the way I intend to continue to share the WMA finances.

Some athletes are very interested in the WMA management and the way the revenues are spent. It is why we find many of them amongst the delegates. That way they have this right.

Regarding the other athletes who would be also interested in the WMA management, I am thinking about how to give them a right to know about the WMA finances. I intend to discuss this question within the new council.

One possibility could be to re-activate the release of financial statements on our WMA website. As they have not been released since 2010, it could be a good way to give the athletes, and everyone, access to financial information. 

How much travel do you plan to do as WMA president? Will you commit to disclosing your travel expenses — at least the costs to WMA?

The president needs to be personally present at important meetings and championships. I will travel as far as it is needed. But I will also delegate to other members of the council the representation of WMA. Through my work and education in administration, I learned to take care of expenses.

Should John Seto’s mastersrankings.com be incorporated into the WMA website?  Should WMA have its own seasonal lists as the IAAF site does?

WMA is supporting John Seto. We don’t have the capacity to do our own. A meeting is planned with John in Malaga to develop the cooperation.

What other changes or improvements would you like to see in the WMA website?

The WMA website is actually too poor. We really need to find a team to update regularly to communicate with the athletes. If am elected, I will have a working group to develop a strategy. I would like to see quicker updates of world records.

How can you or your team better use social media — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other networks — to grow masters athletics worldwide?

Social media can help to develop masters athletics. For the moment, I am not using. The working group will take care of this as well and make suggestions.

Some affiliates, such as India with multiple governing bodies for masters, have been headaches for WMA. How would you deal with national affiliates that don’t adhere to WMA rules or norms?

WMA only can have one affiliate per country. We need, together with the regions of IAAF and WMA, to make clear what the rules are that have to be followed. If not, we might need to sanction. But this is always a decision of council or even the General assembly, not of the president. If there are different bodies for masters, we might have a hearing before the final decision.

Are you satisfied with the accuracy of WMA world age-group records, given that IAAF lists often show better marks than listed WMA records? 

We have to be working on the actuality of our world records.

WMA has moved its outdoor world meet to even-numbered years to avoid going head-to-head with World Masters Games. Has this change worked out for WMA? Or would you consider teaming with IMGA to conduct world athletics championships?

The change of year did not solve the problems with IMGA as now we have clashes in the regions that cause a lot of problems. The relationship is very difficult.

As president, I am open to discussing personally with IMGA representatives, even if I actually don’t see that we can team with IMGA. WMA is the responsible body to organize world championships, IMGA organizes games. We need to keep the leadership of our championships.

Are you satisfied with the current system for choosing WMA Athletes of the Year, which now have added event-group award winners?  Who should have final say on the winners — the entire WMA Council or the executives? Or just the president? Should WMA award money to the top male and female?

No, we should not award money. Being masters athletes of the year is an honor for the athlete. The addition of event-group award winners was a first experience that we have to analyze with the council. The election can only be a choice of people with knowledge of masters; it never can be a president’s lone decision.

The Málaga meet expects 8,000 athletes. Is the meet too big?  Should WMA consider qualifying standards for its indoor and outdoor athletics championships?

I admit that championships like Málaga (or Lyon in 2015) with over 8,000 participants are a very big challenge for the organization. The host cities face a lot of problems. But they are also proud to welcome this big number of athletes and accompanying persons from all over the world.

There are no entry or qualification standards applicable in WMA Championships. During the years of works in WMA, I learned that introducing qualifying standards will create other problems. We need the same rights for all athletes to enter competitions and for the moment we can’t guarantee that all countries are able to control entry standards.

Should the WMA athletics championships award prize money? 


Should WMA revise the Age-Graded Factors? If so, how would this be accomplished?  Who should be involved in this project?  Should athletes have a voice?

Yes, WMA needs to revise the factors. It will be done under the responsibility of the vice-president competition. The aim is to revise for 2020. It will be a hard work. I don’t see how athletes could have act on it.

Should athletes have a voice in determining rules changes in WMA — beyond the national-affiliate delegates they send to the General Assembly?

The decision on rules changes are taken by the General Assembly. We need to have a clear way to prepare a General Assembly. All proposals have to go through the respective affiliate and the region. That guarantees a structured and efficient organization. Athletes have a voice in their country and they need to go through their affiliate if they want to change things.

Of course in discussions athletes can bring in their ideas that we will consider. But amendments have to be prepared correctly.

What rules changes have been proposed for the Málaga General Assembly?

The proposals will be published soon in the Booklet for General assembly.

What would it mean to be the first female president of WMA? 

To be the first female president would be a big honor for me and an important step for women in this organization as I will be able to prove that women have the same skills in leading a sports organization as men. But I would never run as president if I would not be sure that I am able to lead the organization and fulfill the duties.

2 Comments on "Q&A with Germany’s Margit Jungmann, candidate for WMA president"

  1. mike de Silva | August 6, 2018 at 2:04 am | Reply

    I would dearly love to see a woman as WMA president but in my opinion there is too much controversy with a German candidate. Margit has problems having recently worked alongside the former EMA president, whose tenure was controversial. Would Margit have to comply with a “Germany First” dictum from her Federation.

  2. Margit of Germany is voted WMA president, first female leader in history, beating American Gary Snyder and a Finn. https://www.leichtathletik.de/news/news/detail/margit-jungmann-zur-wma-praesidentin-gewaehlt/

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