A new "informal coalition" of academics, big business, governing bodies and international organisations has declared its intention to improve the way sport is run but has denied that it is any threat to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Launched in November, the Sport Integrity Global Alliance has grown from an initial 20 "international, multi-industry members" to more than 70 partners united in the belief that sport must be allowed to govern itself but must do it much better.

How SIGA will achieve that has been the topic of considerable debate and rumour this year, with some saying it could become the WADA for corruption issues, while others have suggested it could even usurp WADA and become a one-stop shop for all integrity-related matters.

SIGA's main drivers provided some more clues as to the future direction of the alliance at a media briefing in London, where they announced a set of "universal standards" for sports federations and governing bodies to aim and a brand identity.

Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, the chief executive of the International Center for Sports Security in Europe and Latin America, said: "SIGA is the only global, multi-partner organisation pushing the issue of good governance in sport to the next level.

"What we are not is a threat to anybody. We are not the new WADA and neither do we intend to be.

"We are inclusive and passionate about sport and we want to work with any like-minded people in promoting better governance."

Macedo de Medeiros, Deloitte partner Chip Cottrell and Dow Jones Sport head Simon Greenberg explained that the universal standards were the product of almost a year's consultation with leading governance experts around the world and from all sectors.

Divided into three broad strands - good governance structures, financial integrity and sports betting integrity - the standards are based on "best practice" approaches to electing leaders, dealing with conflicts of interest, protecting whistle-blowers, preventing corruption and clamping down on betting fraud.

Greenberg, the former chief of staff of England's failed bid for the 2018 World Cup, explained that this is a "living document" that can be refined and added to in time, and said some sports may already meet its various criteria, while others may only want to adopt parts of it.

He also stressed that SIGA was still "a work in progress" and "an informal coalition, not even an organisation yet", but said it was clear it will need to become one - with rules, a figurehead and independent funding - as it moves forward.

On the subject of funding, Macedo de Medeiros, whose ICSS is bankrolled by Qatar, was adamant that SIGA can and will stand on its own two feet, with all of its current members contributing equal amounts of know-how, money and time.

"You should not underestimate the depth and breadth of our members' financial commitment but we are willing to accept money from anybody who shares our reformist agenda, as long as there are no strings attached," said Macedo de Medeiros.

The former general secretary of the Portuguese Professional Football League is currently the coordinator of SIGA's interim council, which includes World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman Jason Ferguson, Spanish sports minister Miguel Cardenal, World Bank vice-president Leonard McCarthy, Mastercard senior vice-president Michael Robichaud and the former head of FIFA's independent governance committee Professor Mark Pieth.

Other significant organisations to have already signed up to SIGA are the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees, Commonwealth Games Federation and the European Professional Football Leagues.

Greenberg and Macedo de Medeiros would not give any details on which other major sporting stakeholders SIGA has been talking to - or whether it had spoken to the International Olympic Committee or FIFA yet - but said they have been actively pursuing talks with all relevant parties and nobody had refused to talk to them so far.

"There is a sense of deep urgency out there," said Macedo de Medeiros.

"If the events of May 2015 (when seven leading football executives were arrested at Zurich's Baur au Lac hotel) are not enough, what will be required to illustrate just how vital it is to make reforms to how sport is run?

"This is a precious and unique moment for sport and its future cannot be led by law enforcement."

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