I will clean up athletics, vows Seb Coe

The pressure on Seb Coe is set to intensify with the IAAF president to be grilled by British politicians on his handling of athletics’ doping scandal and his links with sportswear giant Nike.
I will clean up athletics, vows Seb Coe

Coe is expected to appear before Britain’s culture, media and sport select committee before Christmas to answer questions on the crisis which has seen Russia implicated in “state-sponsored” doping and Coe’s predecessor arrested.

The 59-year-old Coe, who has taken some flak over the IAAF’s role in the scandal, will also be quizzed about continuing as a Nike brand ambassador. It has been raised as an area for possible conflicts of interest – if for example the company also sponsors drugs cheats.

Coe last night declared he “won’t fail” to clean up the sport when questioned at a Microsoft event in London hosted by Clare Balding.

He said: “I won’t fail, but I also accept this is a huge journey. This isn’t six weeks to fit thighs. This is a long journey and we have to start somewhere. I know what I have to do.

“It’s actually just nice to be here for some distraction.” Coe said he was determined to tackle the crisis, and would back his own instincts in the fight to rebuild his sport’s reputation.

“You have to back your own instincts,” he said. “I have to do this without fear or favour, and I fully accept I may not even be around when the full fruits of what I need to do are probably going to be recognised.

“But I will do that now and I’m going to back my own instincts, and every day I’m going to remind myself why I walked into that athletics club at the age of 11 and the things that people did to help me along the way.

“I want to make sure I’m surrounded by people on that journey who are not just there because they’ve got a plastic accreditation around their neck, get the best seats in the stadium, and have courtesy cars take them everywhere.

“I’ve got to make the journey with people that I really know are absolutely, at their core, lovers of my sport.”

Coe said he launched a review the day after he won the IAAF presidency and he is speeding it up in the face of this week’s report.

“Clearly in light of what has emerged in the last week I’ve accelerated that and I know the people that I will make this journey with,” Coe added.

Russia’s drug-testing laboratory in Moscow has been provisionally suspended and the country also faces calls for it to be stripped of the IAAF World Junior Championships next year as pressure mounts over the biggest doping scandal for a generation.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has suspended the accreditation of the Moscow laboratory pending a disciplinary hearing after an independent commission revealed 1,417 samples were deliberately destroyed on the orders of the lab’s director.

A WADA spokesman said: “We have provisionally suspended the laboratory. A disciplinary process will now be started and a three-person disciplinary panel will now be set up.”

Russia is facing a ban from the Rio 2016 Olympics, and UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has called for the country to be banned from international athletics competitions and stripped of hosting next year’s World Junior Championships in Kazan.

Warner said: ”I am all for suspension until the systems in Russia are proved to be robust. The IAAF is meeting later this week to consider suspending Russia and my strong advice would be that you have got to do that.

”If you suspend the Russian athletics federation you then have to remove the World Junior Championships – cancel them and take them elsewhere.

”The worst thing would be for Russia to turn up at the World Indoor Championships in Oregon in March or to host the juniors and we find out that nothing has changed.”

The WADA report revealed senior anti-doping figures took cash to cover up positive tests, there was intimidation of officials and their families by undercover officers from the Russian secret service (FSB) and athletes were given warning of when tests were to take place.

The independent commission’s chairman Richard Pound, the former WADA president, said Russia should be banned from next year’s Olympics and that there was suspicion over its performances which ”sabotaged” the London 2012 Games where the country won 82 medals.

Warner added: ”The great sadness for London 2012 is for those clean athletes who missed out on a final or a medal because someone else was doping – they will go around for the rest of their lives feeling cheated. They will never get those days back.”

Warner is also chairman of the organising committee for the 2017 World Championships in London and said the sport needed to use that event as a chance to show it had properly tackled doping across the globe.

”It is an opportunity for [IAAF president] Seb Coe and the athletics world to show its best face, that the cheats have been hauled out of the sport and that the corrupt officials are bang to rights,” said Warner.

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