The sportswear giant is looking to end its contract with the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) four years early.
The move comes after a damning report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) which said the London 2012 Olympic Games was “sabotaged” by “state-sponsored” Russian doping.
Insiders at the IAAF – which is led by Lord Coe – have insisted it may not suffer financially from the potential loss of its biggest sponsor, while Adidas has refused to confirm that it wants to end the deal. Adidas said: “Adidas has a clear anti-doping policy. Therefore, we are in close contact with the IAAF to learn more about their reform process.”
An IAAF spokesman said: “The IAAF is in close contact with all its sponsors and partners as we embark on our reform process.’’
Adidas is also the oldest commercial partner of football’s governing body, Fifa, which is embroiled in its own scandal. However, the German multinational has not joined other major sponsors in demanding reforms and calling for Sepp Blatter to quit as president.
The IAAF deal was signed in 2008 and was reported at the time to be worth $33 million (£23m). The BBC has reported that taking into account the “value in kind” part of the agreement for kit and equipment the deal could be worth as much as £5.6m a year. IAAF insiders insist the potential end of the deal will not be a major financial blow for the organisation as it sold the rights to Japanese-based marketing agency Dentsu, which then sold them on to Adidas.
Earlier this month, Wada’s chairman, Dick Pound, delivered a report which revealed “corruption was embedded” within the IAAF under former president Lamine Diack.
Former Olympic champion Lord Coe, who was elected president of the IAAF in August, has faced mounting calls to explain how much he knew about doping and corruption after serving as vice-president since 2007.
Canon, Toyota, Seiko, TDK, Tokyo Broadcasting System and Mondo are listed as IAAF’s other commercial partners.
Canon said it had no plans to cut short its sponsorship deal.
A Canon spokeswoman said: “Canon Inc’s current sponsorship contract with IAAF runs until 31 December 2016. We have no intention to terminate the contract before that date.”
Shadow sports minister Clive Efford said: “The IAAF has clearly failed to convince Adidas it can make the changes that will restore public confidence in athletics and its governing body.”
“This latest news is a major blow for athletics, and shows that much more must be done to show that the IAAF is determined to bring about the changes that the sport needs.”