Coe: Doping claims very serious

Published: Sunday 14th December 2014 by The News Editor

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IAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe says if the current doping allegations in athletics are true then it will be a scandal on a par with those which erupted around Ben Johnson and Marion Jones’ positive drugs tests.

An investigation is to begin into allegations of a cover-up of systematic doping in Russia, with a number of leading IAAF officials stepping down while that takes place.

There are also claims that a list exists which names 150 athletes with suspicious blood results from 2006 to 2008, with three Britons – one high-profile – said to be on it. It is alleged the IAAF did not follow up those on the list.

All the allegations have come from a series of programmes made by German television station ARD and if proven, they would have serious ramifications for the sport.

“How do I benchmark this? In the 40 or so years in athletics, there have been big moments. Ben Johnson in 1988, Marion Jones, this is up there and nobody is remotely suggesting these allegations are not serious,” Lord Coe said on BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme.

Johnson failed a doping test after winning Olympic 100 metres gold in Seoul in 1988, while American Jones was stripped of five Olympic titles for doping breaches.

When asked if this case could be of that magnitude, Coe added: “If this is provable, of course it is.”

Coe wants ARD, and its journalist Hajo Seppelt, to give him any more information there is, including the list of names which he has suggested may be far from official.

“It’s been described as a bad week for athletics – I would go further, it’s been a ghastly week. None of us should hide or shy away from that. We have to bring this tawdry, sorry episode and any of those allegations to a close as quickly as we can,” he said.

“I don’t know about the existence of this list, it only got mentioned on German television. The simple answer is I don’t know, the IAAF does not know what this list contains and whether it is a list that has any veracity at all.

“The offer we make as a federation is, if there is more information out there, if this German journalist feels there is a list, or whatever he’s got, please let us know what it is. We need to bring this to a close as quickly as possible. That can be done by the IAAF’s ethics committee, it can be done by WADA. We would go to Berlin and look at what he’s got but we have to get as much information as we can on this.

“Nobody at the IAAF has seen a list. What we understand is that this German journalist may have shown some people in the press a list of names, but nobody knows what this list is and the suspicion is that this list is not what this German journalist is purporting it to be.

“The offer is a simple one. If he has got a list, or more information he thinks is salient, please put them into the IAAF ethics committee, or WADA (the World Anti-Doping Agency). If he thinks our organisation is sullied.. I can understand why. If he has a problem with that, we will take a WADA official with us.”

Earlier this week, the son of IAAF president Lamine Diack stepped down from his activities with athletics’ world governing body pending the investigation.

Papa Massata Diack, who works for the IAAF as a marketing consultant, joined Valentin Balakhnichev, the president of the Russian athletics federation and the IAAF’s treasurer, in agreeing to step down.

Balakhnichev told Russia’s TASS news agency he and the federation had been subjected to ”brutal persecution” by the allegations, which he branded as “a pack of lies”.

Published: Sunday 14th December 2014 by The News Editor

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