Sebastian Coe insisted presiding over the IAAF has become one of his toughest challenges to date, as he aims to salvage the image of athletics following a series of damning doping revelations.
The Russian Athletics Federation is serving a ban from international competition after an independent report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found the country to have been involved in widespread, state-sponsored doping.
It remains to be seen whether Russia will compete at the Olympic Games in Rio da Janeiro in August.
Coe – a two-time Olympic gold medallist – has targeted making the sport a leader??in combating drugs within the next two years and reclaim the trust of competitors and spectators alike.
“London 2012 was not without its challenges, no, but I think I have to accept that this is probably the chunkiest challenge that I’ve faced,” said Coe.
“I’m not benchmarking ourselves against other sports, but I want people to look at the IAAF as being a leader in a year or two’s time. I have a twin challenge here, and the council that I’m very lucky to be working with accepts that challenge, and that is to return trust to the IAAF and to return trust to the sport of athletics and particularly to create systems that are safe and secure for clean athletes.
“Because if this isn’t actually about the athletes then we might as well go home. I know why I get up in the morning — and it’s not because I’m a sports administrator — it’s because I’m a runner and I know the effort that I made in order to do what I did in systems that were always on the side of clean athletes and we have to make sure that the people in our sport that understand that philosophy are elevated to positions of influence.”
Coe also highlighted an interest in??investigating the decision-making process which leads to an athlete considering violating regulations and is willing to sacrifice funds from other programmes to eliminate the issue.
And the 59-year-old voiced his support for the notion of handing out life bans to first-time offenders, despite existing laws limiting the maximum sentence to four years.
“The code is not arcane maritime law and it isn’t something that we don’t really understand. Athletes know that there is a real risk if they step outside the system and cheat,” he added.
“My natural instinct is to get the cheats out of sports for life, but I do also recognise that when we have looked at this time and time again, we have occasionally challenged it legally overt, and it has been extremely hard to hold.
“The advice that we consistently are given — and these are conversations that will continue I’m sure — but the advice that we have always been given wherever we’ve sat in that landscape, is that four years is probably the maximum that we would be able to do.”
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