No time to take foot off pedal, warns Coe

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

The IAAF has the chance to dis­tance it­self from “grotesque sto­ries” of cor­rup­tion when mem­bers vote Satur­day on a raft of rev­o­lu­tion­ary re­forms drawn up by pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Coe. Since Coe took of­fice in Au­gust 2015, the IAAF has been mired in the fall-out from dis­graced pre­de­ces­sor Lamine Di­ack, at the cen­tre of a cor­rup­tion scan­dal in which sev­eral for­mer se­nior IAAF of­fi­cials were found to have bribed Rus­sian ath­letes to keep quiet over pos­i­tive dop­ing tests. “Now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal. We have a mo­men­tous op­por­tu­nity on Satur­day to re­store cred­i­bil­ity and pi­o­neer a new era of trans­par­ent and ac­count­able sports ad­min­is­tra­tion,” Coe said.

“We are guardians, not own­ers of this sport and as such we have an obli­ga­tion to lay the right foun­da­tions for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions who will sit in our places and com­pete in our events.”

Coe, whose pro­pos­als go be­fore a Spe­cial Congress on Satur­day, added: “This is a pretty im­por­tant week in the history of our sport. Be­cause I do not want us ever to re­turn to the grotesque sto­ries that even over the last few days we have been wak­ing up to.”

The lat­est rev­e­la­tions, com­ing as yet more ath­letes were stripped of medals fol­low­ing re-tests dat­ing back to 2008, saw French news­pa­per Le Monde and Ger­man broad­caster ARD re­port that the prac­tice of cov­er­ing up Rus­sian anom­alies was more wide­spread than ini­tially thought. Coe’s re­forms, with a nod to Di­ack’s abuse of the pres­i­dency, in­clude strip­ping him­self of some pow­ers, with the pres­i­dent and IAAF Coun­cil not al­lowed to serve more than 12 years and with more checks put in place.

They also push for gen­der bal­ance, hand­ing ath­letes a greater voice and cru­cially es­tab­lish­ing an in­de­pen­dent in­tegrity unit that would man­age all anti-dop­ing mat­ters and be re­spon­si­ble for greater in­tel­li­gence gather­ing.

“This is a mo­ment to be bold, not to be timid,” Coe said. “The re­forms cre­ate the strong­est set of foun­da­tions upon which we need to build new fans, cre­ate new for­mats, to find new part­ners and frankly to cre­ate new and ex­cit­ing events.

“We must en­gage with young peo­ple, we must find new fans and that sits at the heart of our strat­egy.” Coe needs the back­ing of two-thirds of the 214 fed­er­a­tions that will vote on Satur­day to get the pro­pos­als passed. “We must ac­cept that the rep­u­ta­tion of the IAAF and ath­let­ics has been tar­nished by events that came to light a year ago,” Coe says in his ‘Time for Change’ man­i­festo.

“We still have a lot of work to do to re­store our rep­u­ta­tion, cred­i­bil­ity and trust within our own sport and the wider world of sport.”Coe seems to have wide sup­port from ath­letes, Kenya’s 800m great David Rud­isha say­ing: “Our sport has been go­ing through a lot of tur­bu­lence of late, one be­ing the prob­lems with dop­ing and there’s a lot that needs to be done.

“Fight­ing dop­ing must be a col­lec­tive of all peo­ple start­ing with the cit­i­zen, ath­lete, man­ager, coaches and ev­ery­one who loves sport. Only one body can­not fight and suc­ceed in this fight.” Nor­we­gian Rune An­der­sen, cur­rently head of the IAAF Task­force look­ing into steps Rus­sia is tak­ing in its anti-dop­ing fight, said the cre­ation of the Ath­let­ics In­tegrity Unit was “ground-break­ing”.

“It strikes me that the new In­tegrity Unit could play a very im­por­tant role in fu­ture in speed­ing up the res­o­lu­tion of cases and im­po­si­tion of sanc­tions, and in help­ing the IAAF mon­i­tor and guide the ef­forts of non-com­pli­ant na­tional fed­er­a­tions to bring them­selves back into com­pli­ance with the anti-dop­ing and other in­tegrity re­quire­ments of IAAF mem­bers,” An­der­sen said.

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