IAAF president Sebastian Coe insists he does not underestimate the seriousness of the doping and corruption crisis engulfing athletics’ world governing body.
And Coe, who says he has not considered stepping downat head of the beleaguered organisation, is confident no allegations will emerge which directly implicate him in wrongdoing.
The IAAF is braced for the second part of the World Anti-Doping Agency report into Russian doping today. Part one laid bare state- sponsored doping in the country which resulted in it being suspended by the IAAF.
Coe said in an interview with CNN: “One of the accusations is I don’t sort of get the seriousness of this issue — I do. I’m dealing with it every day and I have been dealing with this since the first day I took over the role as president.”
He added: “Our sport is a strong sport. Don’t run away with the idea I don’t know that these are dark days, of course they’re dark days.
“The crisis actually was probably two or three years ago when what we’re having to deal with was taking place. Our responsibly now is to make those changes and to take the sport into safe territory.”
Last week three of athletics’ leading figures — Papa Massata Diack, son of the former IAAF president Lamine Diack and a marketing consultant for the organisation, former Russian athletics federation (ARAF) president and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev, and Alexei Melnikov, a senior ARAF coach — were handed lifetime bans by the IAAF’s ethics commission for blackmailing athletes and covering up positive drugs tests.
Lamine Diack, Lord Coe’s predecessor, is the subject of a police investigation over claims he took money to cover up positive tests by Russian athletes.
Meanwhile, Coe’s right-hand man at the IAAF, Nick Davies, has stepped aside from his role as director of the president’s office while he is investigated by the IAAF’s ethics commission. Davies faces allegations of unethical behaviour after French newspaper Le Monde obtained a copy of an email sent by him in which he appears to discuss delaying the identification of Russian drug cheats in the run-up to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. He denies wrongdoing.
However, Coe said he did not regret standing for president, saying: “Not for one moment and why would I? This is a sport for which I owe everything.”
Asked if he had thought about stepping down, he said: “No, because the day-to-day duties of a president is to make sure the sport is in safe keeping. My focus is to help shape the future of our sport. I am focused entirely on putting changes in place that leave the sport in safe and secure hands. And that is my only focus now.”
Coe admitted further countries could join Russia in being banned by the IAAF should evidence of systematic doping be uncovered.
“If we are not satisfied the countries we are looking closely at are not prepared to make the changes we want sanctions could follow.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved