Athletics Ireland yesterday backed IAAF president Sebastian Coe to salvage the sport’s reputation, despite the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) finding that the IAAF’s governing council “could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics and the non-enforcement of applicable anti-doping rules”.
But Russia should not, at this stage, be considered to compete at this year’s Olympics, the Irish governing body insists.
“Sebastian Coe is a strong character and now needs to show that strength of character and deliver radical reform for our sport,” said Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley, in a statement.
“Athletics Ireland believes Sebastian Coe should be given time as President of the IAAF to make the changes that are clearly necessary and to do so in a visible, open and urgent manner,” the statement continued.
Foley stressed the need for the IAAF to reform after independent investigator Dick Pound’s report accused Coe’s predecessor Lamine Diack of running a clique that covered up organised doping and blackmailed athletes while senior officials looked the other way.
He said: “The extent of the revelations around corruption in the IAAF is massively troubling for anyone involved in athletics. The IAAF must change, and must change radically, if the sport is to have any chance of recovering from the findings of WADA’s two reports.
“Irish athletes and coaches and the athletics community here deserves that the umbrella governing body uphold the highest standards and that clearly has not been the case in recent years as evidenced by the independent commission’s work.
“To achieve this, our sport needs the credibility of the governance structures of the IAAF to be restored and this can only happen through a comprehensive change programme which the IAAF must now embark on.
Foley also defended Ireland’s track record on doping controls: “The anti-doping system run by Sport Ireland is credible, comprehensive and stands up to the highest scrutiny, as are the majority of national federations programmes, but it’s important that any doubts around other countries testing procedures are thoroughly investigated.”
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