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Nordic Noir (4): a journalist urged to save dysfunctional sports federation from meltdown

Lars Werge, a former investigative sports journalist and ex-president of the Danish Union of Journalists, is elected as the new president of the Danish Athletic Federation – following several years of poor governance inside the board of the federation.

Lars Werge.
Lars Werge, president of Dansk Atletik. (Photo: Werge og Whitt / Benita Marcussen)

Is investigative journalism the answer to tackling the well-documented poor governance of national and international sports federations? Obviously, the Danish Athletic Federation Dansk Atletik (DAF) thinks so. After three years with four different presidents and a board that has been criticised for being dysfunctional, DAF has just elected Lars Werge, a former investigative journalist and former chairman of the Danish Journalists' Association, as its new president.

As a young athlete, the 57-year-old journalist was a multiple Danish champion in the high jump. And for a period of just over a year, he was vice chairman of DAF until he resigned from the post five months ago due to a lack of support from the board.

Lars Werge is the fifth president of Dansk Atletik since 2021, when long-standing president Karsten Munkvad stepped down. Karsten Munkvad was succeeded by Bent Jensen, who was overthrown the following year when Christina Schnohr took over the post. However, she resigned after just two months, after which Simone Frandsen took over the leadership of the federation until 1 February 2024.

Simone Frandsen and three other board members resigned from DAF's management due to disagreements with the other board members. At the same time, DAF's elite manager Mikkel Larsen resigned from his position. Although an attempt was made to appoint Thomas Vang Christensen as the new president after Simone Frandsen, it did not bring peace.

The many changes in athletics management led Hans Natorp, chairman of the Danish Sports Confederation (DIF), to speak of "a meltdown", and the elite sports organisation Team Denmark described the DAF board as "dysfunctional".

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