Sonia O'Sullivan misses out on IAAF Council role as Coe outlines plans

Sonia O’Sullivan narrowly missed out being elected to the IAAF Council on the day Sebastian Coe was elected the new president of the international athletics governing body.

Sonia O'Sullivan misses out on IAAF Council role as Coe outlines plans

There was good news for Tullamore Harriers’ John Cronin who got elected to the IAAF’s Technical Committee.

The elections took place in Beijing ahead of the IAAF World Championships which start on Saturday. O’Sullivan was disappointed not to be elected but long-time Athletics Ireland official John Cronin, who hails from Donegal, was delighted to be elected to the Technical Committee.

“I am delighted to have been elected as a member of the IAAF Technical Committee today in Beijing and to be in a position to contribute to the shaping of the competition rules and technologˆy involved in our wonderful global sport over the next four years,” said Cronin.

“I would like to particularly acknowledge the support of Athletics Ireland and also to the many federations from around the world who voted for me. I am honoured to join Al Guy, Eddie Spillane and Fred Moran who previously served on IAAF committees for Ireland.”

O’Sullivan will return to Ireland from the World Championships next week ahead of her commemoration run, the Sonia 5k, in her hometown of Cobh on September 19 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her 1995 world 5,000m gold in Gothenburg. A statue is also set to be unveiled in the town.

Meanwhile Coe is determined to prove to a sceptical public that the International Association of Athletics Federations is committed to ridding the sport of drug cheats.

The former London 2012 chairman beat Ukrainian Sergey Bubka to the most powerful position in world athletics, as he was elected as the new president of the IAAF in a vote at its Congress in Beijing yesterday.

Bubka was re-elected as an IAAF vice-president.

Two-time Olympic 1500 metres champion Cioe secured the support of the majority of the 207 IAAF member federations who voted, winning by 115 votes to 92. Coe succeeds Lamine Diack, the 82-year-old from Senegal who has been president since 1999, and becomes only the sixth president in the IAAF’s 103-year history.

The 58-year-old’s elevation from vice-president comes at a crucial time for the organisation, with allegations of mass doping and cover-ups threatening to ruin the already fragile reputation of the sport.

The Briton, who has been a staunch and unapologetic defender of the IAAF’s anti-doping record, has pledged to set up an independent anti-doping agency for the sport inside his first 100 days in office.

He said: “There is a zero tolerance to the abuse of doping in my sport and I will maintain that to the very highest level of vigilance.”

Coe declined to go into the details of how his anti-doping body would work, saying it was something he had to discuss with his IAAF colleagues over the coming weeks.

But he did admit there was a perception that in-house drug testing created “conflicts” and “loopholes”.

He added: “We do have to recognise there is too broad a view that this is something, whether real or perceived, (where) there are conflicts and there are loopholes and I think an independent system is what we need to close down any thought that we are doing anything other than being entirely vigilant about that.”

Coe has highlighted the need to overhaul the athletics calendar, increase commercial revenue, empower national federations and encourage young people into the sport.

But it is the fight against banned drugs which is set to be front and centre of his reign. The IAAF has come under fierce attack amid allegations — which it vehemently denies — that it turned a blind eye to suspicious blood test results from hundreds of athletes and also blocked the publication of a report claiming a third of athletes at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea admitted doping.

Coe has been the most outspoken voice on the accusations, calling them a “declaration of war” on the sport.

Despite the strong rebuttals, it is clear serious damage has been done to the credibility of the organisation and the sport as a whole, an issue which needs to be addressed urgently.

Coe, whose other posts include chairman of the British Olympic Association, executive chairman of CSM Sport and Entertainment — a sports marketing outfit — and global advisor to Nike, said it was too soon to say whether he would have to scale back any of those roles.

He said: “I made the point absolute unflinchingly (to the Congress) this morning, you have a president who will devote full-time attention to the management and the direction of the IAAF. I would not have thrown by hat into the ring if I felt that I would be short changing this organisation.

“How I combine that is something I’ve always managed.”

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