Coe keeps mum on lat­est IAAF scan­dal

Ath­let­ics body is ‘worse than FIFA’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

SE­BAS­TIAN COE has long been one of the most out­spo­ken crit­ics of dop­ing in ath­let­ics yet the newly-elected pres­i­dent of the sport’s gov­ern­ing body has re­mained silent this week in the face of po­ten­tially its most damn­ing drugs scan­dal yet.

Coe, in the top IAAF job for less than three months, is fac­ing his sport’s sec­ond ma­jor dop­ing con­tro­versy in the pe­riod, the most re­cent of which was la­belled “worse than FIFA” by his former Bri­tish team­mate Da­ley Thomp­son.

Coe’s pre­de­ces­sor Lamine Di­ack and the IAAF’s former dop­ing chief Gabriel Dolle are un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion over al­le­ga­tions that they ac­cepted mas­sive bribes to cover up pos­i­tive dop­ing tests.

While the world reels in the face of yet an­other shock­ing in­dict­ment of sports mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion, how­ever, Coe has yet to ut­ter a word, de­spite re­peated re­quests.

A co­in­ci­dence of tim­ing meant that an in­ter­view he gave to Daily Tele­graph ap­peared on Thurs­day, a day af­ter the news of the Di­ack in­ves­ti­ga­tion was re­leased by French author­i­ties.

“The crowds have to know that what they are watch­ing is gen­uine. Par­ents have got to know that they are en­cour­ag­ing their chil­dren to go into a sport where they will not be harmed,” Coe said. “We will not shy away from this.”

One of the four “pil­lars” of his pres­i­den­tial elec­tion man­i­festo was: “En­sur­ing in­tegrity and trust in every­thing we do”.

The dou­ble Olympic 1500m cham­pion pledged that the newly cre­ated IAAF ethics Com­mis­sion would make them the “out­stand­ing Olympic fed­er­a­tion in the field of in­tegrity”.

While he can­not be held ac­count­able for the ac­tions of his pre­de­ces­sor and his son – who has left his IAAF role while un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion – or the other IAAF of­fi­cials in the spot­light, Coe’s si­lence is not go­ing down well in the sport.

“We said when Seb Coe took over that the first 100 days would de­fine his ten­ure. And th­ese lat­est de­vel­op­ments, if they are true... I don’t think any­thing much worse could hap­pen to the sport than for the former pres­i­dent to have col­luded with the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion over dop­ing tests,” former Olympic and world de­cathlon cham­pion Thomp­son told Talksport Ra­dio. “This to my mind is a 10 or 11 on the Lance Arm­strong scale. This is much worse that what Sepp Blat­ter has been do­ing.

“Ob­vi­ously, this has not hap­pened on Seb Coe’s watch. But he needs to have a root and branch re­form... maybe he needs to make a stand and say what he’s go­ing to do about it.”

Days be­fore he was elected, Coe had to deal with al­le­ga­tions that ath­letes had been es­cap­ing cen­sure de­spite hav­ing ab­nor­mal blood lev­els.

Al­though the sci­ence be­hind the claims was com­pli­cated and far from con­clu­sive ev­i­dence of fur­ther wide­spread dop­ing, Coe im­me­di­ately drew com­par­isons with cy­cling dur­ing its worst years when he said: “It’s a dec­la­ra­tion of war on my sport.”

At­tempts to ex­pose the dop­ing cul­ture of cy­cling dur­ing the last 20 years were rou­tinely beaten back by the sport’s gov­ern­ing body on ex­actly that raise-the-draw­bridge ap­proach.

Not un­til ju­di­cial author­i­ties be­came in­volved was the breadth of dop­ing and its cover-ups fi­nally ex­posed.

Coe also at­tracted crit­i­cism for dis­miss­ing the bona fides of the re­spected sci­en­tists used by the Sun­day Times and Ger­man broad­caster ARD to in­ves­ti­gate the sus­pi­cious blood val­ues.

“Th­ese so-called ex­perts – give me a break,” he said. “I know who I would be­lieve.”

Coe, how­ever, did get sup­port from his home­land, in the form of Ed Warner, chair­man of UK Ath­let­ics.

“If ever Seb ever truly wanted to prove him­self, now’s his chance,” Warner said.

“He has all the nec­es­sary cre­den­tials and I’m con­vinced that had he at any time been aware of cor­rup­tion within the or­gan­i­sa­tion then he would have blown the whis­tle.”

Yes­ter­day, Coe can­celled the IAAF’s glitzy Monaco Ath­lete of the Year gala this month.

The fed­er­a­tion’s web­site looked as shiny and up­beat as nor­mal with pre­views of the gala sit­ting along­side pic­tures of Coe’s re­cent trip to Rus­sia, but not a word on the Di­ack charge or any of the other un­rest swirling around the sport. – Reuters

EPA

JUST SAY NOTH­ING: Former IAAF pres­i­dent Lamine Di­ack with his suc­ces­sor, former Olympic medal­ist Se­bas­tian Coe.

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