Lord Coe: IAAF president says athletics faces long road – BBC News
Athletics faces a “long road to redemption” over allegations of bribery to cover up doping violations, says IAAF president Lord Coe.
An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency will report its findings on Monday.
The report into claims of cover-ups and money-laundering will show
“a different scale of corruption”
even compared to Fifa, says co-author Richard McLaren.
“These are dark days for our sport,” Coe told
BBC Radio 5 live’s Sportsweek.
“The day after I got elected, I started a massive review. Understandably, in the light of the allegations that have been made, that review has been accelerated.
“I’m more determined than ever to rebuild the trust in our sport. However, this is a long road to redemption.”
What did Coe know?
Lamine Diack, 82, the ex-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, is
on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.
Coe was vice-president of the IAAF for eight of the 16 years that Diack was in charge.
However, he said he was not aware of any of the allegations made against the Senegalese, who stepped down in August, until they “first surfaced at the start of the week”.
He added: “That was the first that I had heard of them and that is almost certainly the case for everyone in the sport.”
At the time of his election, double Olympic 1500m champion Coe had
described Diack as the IAAF’s “spiritual” leader
but accepted on Sunday that he may face criticism for those remarks.
A change of culture
When asked if countries who persistently produce athletes who dope should be thrown out of the sport, Coe said: “I have never said never but my instinct is engagement rather than isolation.
“We need a generation of coaches and athletes to believe that it is possible to reach the pinnacle of sport with integrity and as clean athletes.
“We will continue to lead the fight against drugs in sport on behalf of clean athletes that those who cheat will be caught and those who are caught will be thoroughly investigated and the guilty will face the fullest sanctions available.
“We have to make sure clean athletes know that we are in their corner and I will do everything I possibly can to make sure we rebuild trust in this sport.
“My task is to build a sport that will be accountable, responsible and responsive, but it will take time.”
Will athletics ever be clean?
“No,” was Coe’s straightforward answer. “The practicality is there will always be a few people who try to step beyond the moral boundaries.
“It is our responsibility to make sure right systems are in place and the right people to uphold these systems.”
He also reiterated that he would “absolutely” like to see athletes found guilty of doping receive life bans but added that despite “legal brains addressing the subject time and time again, we have failed to win that argument”.
The others facing charges
Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, is among
four men charged
by the body over ethics code breaches.
Papa Diack is a former consultant to the IAAF. The other three are: the former head of the IAAF anti-doping department Gabriel Dolle, the former president of the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) Alexei Melnikov and Valentin Balakhnichev, a former chief ARAF coach for long distance walkers and runners.
“That people in our sport have allegedly extorted money from athletes guilty of doping violations is abhorrent,” said Coe in an earlier statement sent to Reuters and Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.
When the Sunday Times first broke the story of allegations of widespread doping in athletics in August,
Coe described it
as a “declaration of war” – a remark which he has been
called to explain
to a Parliament select committee later this month.
The 59-year-old also said it was time to “come out fighting” to protect the sport’s reputation and added: “there is nothing in our history of competence and integrity in drug testing that warrants this kind of attack”.
Despite his election, Coe still remains as an ambassador for sportswear company Nike and has said he does not believe there is a conflict of interest with the two roles.
Alberto Salazar, coach of Britain’s Olympic champion Mo Farah, who is also head of the Nike Oregon Project and remains the subject of a United States Anti-Doping Agency investigation.