Coe: Difficult time for athletics

Published: Monday 8th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Sebastian Coe claims athletics’ reputation is being disproportionately damaged by doping cases involving a small number of countries and has promised that the investigation into allegations of systematic doping in Russia will be completely independent.

A programme by German ARD-TV has alleged that doping and corruption extended beyond Russia and implicated the sport’s world governing body the IAAF in covering up the problem.

The French sports daily L’Equipe has also raised questions about meetings in Moscow hotels in 2011 between Valentin Balakhnichev, the president of the Russian athletics federation and an IAAF council member, a legal adviser to the IAAF named Habib Cisse and Massata Papa Diack – the son of Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF.

Lord Coe, an IAAF vice-president, insisted Lamine Diack was fully behind the investigation but admitted the latest allegations made it a difficult time for athletics.

Speaking at the IOC session in Monaco, Coe said: “You have to say that the scope and scale of these allegations takes it beyond simply a competitor deciding to step beyond the moral boundary.

“This is not in every country of the world – there are 213 federations. But you do have to say a disproportionate amount of the reputational damage is in a relatively small number of countries, and I think we have to recognise this.

“They are very serious allegations. The very fact that the allegations are in the public domain means that they are serious. So, we have to be very clear that this is a very, very difficult time for our sport.”

Coe, who is standing in next August’s election to succeed Diack as president, said the latest transcripts of the programme have now been sent to the IAAF Council, the body’s ethics committee, to the IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Asked if the allegations against Diack’s son made it difficult for the IAAF president, Coe added: “No I think Lamine is very clear, he will wait for the investigation and if names are in the fray then those names will be subject to that investigation.

“He’s certainly not curtailing the work of the ethics committee nor could you – it’s Michael Beloff, one of the top QCs in the world.”

Coe indicated he would be in favour of publishing the ethics committee’s investigation, and confirmed that IAAF rules would allow Russia to be declared non-compliant if the allegations are judged to be proved.

He added: “We do have a category, a status which we refer to as in good standing. A good standing is not just about paying your subs on time or being free from political interference. We have had suspensions in federations for all sorts of reasons because, for one reason or another, the council have decided that that federation is not in good standing. Let’s just see where these reports take us.”

Published: Monday 8th December 2014 by The News Editor

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