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Long way back for our sport - Coe

Published:Monday | November 9, 2015 | 11:00 AM
Sebastain Coe

LONDON (AP):

IAAF President Sebastian Coe said yesterday that his sport faces a "long way back" before it can restore trust and credibility amid the "dark days" of the bribery, extortion and doping cover-up allegations that are shaking track and field.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Coe also discounted though didn't rule out completely the possibility of banning Russia from international competition because of its record on doping.

"I'm never saying never, but my instinct is that these things are better changed through engagement not isolation," he said.

Coe spoke a day before the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) releases the findings of its independent investigation into allegations of widespread and systematic doping in Russia.

The WADA report will add to the crisis enveloping the sport after Coe's longtime predecessor as IAAF president, Lamine Diack, and two other people were placed under criminal investigation in France on corruption charges related to Russian doping cases.

"I'm just angry, bloody angry," Coe told the AP in a telephone interview. "I'm angry about the position our sport is in today. I'm shocked, I'm angered and dismayed. These are dark days."

"We shouldn't kid ourselves," he added. "It's going to be a long way back to rebuilding trust."

 

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Coe, the British middle-distance great who organised the 2012 London Olympics, was elected in August to succeed Diack, who headed the International Association of Athletics Federations for 16 years. Coe said he had immediately initiated a complete review of the IAAF, which will now deal with the current allegations.

"I will have a raft of reforms in place and ready for the approval of the council in two weeks' time," he said. "Everything is under review. I'm more determined than ever to create a sport that is accountable, responsible and responsive."

Diack was taken into police custody last Sunday and released two days later after being charged with corruption and money laundering, suspected of taking more than €1 million (US$1.1 million) to cover up positive doping tests.

Diack's legal adviser at the IAAF, Habib Cisse, and Gabriel Dolle, a doctor who managed the IAAF's anti-doping programme, were also detained and charged with corruption.

The IAAF ethics commission also confirmed that Diack's son, Papa Massata Diack, Dolle and two Russian officials were facing sanctions in connection with helping a Russian marathon runner avoid a doping ban before the London Games.

Coe served for eight years as a vice president under Diack and often praised him, calling him the IAAF's "spiritual president" before replacing him as leader.

He also defended the IAAF's anti-doping programme, saying that 69 athletes in track and field out of a total of 85 in all sports have been sanctioned since the federation's biological passport programme was implemented in 2011.