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Russian doping claims: Lord Coe says he 'won't fail' to clean up athletics

Published 10/11/2015

London mayor Boris Johnson, left, and Lord Coe
London mayor Boris Johnson, left, and Lord Coe

Athletics chief Lord Coe has declared that he "won't fail" to clean up the sport following revelations of "state-sponsored" Russian doping.

A damning report said the London 2012 Olympic Games was "sabotaged" by the presence of Russian athletes with suspicious doping profiles.

An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revealed 1,417 samples were deliberately destroyed on the orders of the director of Russia's drug-testing laboratory.

Lord Coe, president of the athletics governing body the IAAF, was questioned about cleaning up athletics at a Microsoft event in London hosted by Clare Balding.

He said: "I won't fail, but I also accept that this is a huge journey."

He added: "This is a long journey and we have to start somewhere, and I know what I have to do.

"It's actually just nice to be here for some distraction."

Former Olympic champion Lord Coe was elected president of the IAAF earlier this year, but he has faced mounting calls to explain how much he knew about doping and corruption.

He said he was determined to tackle the crisis, and would back his own "instincts" in the fight to rebuild the reputation of the sport.

He said: "You have to back your own instincts, I have to do this without fear or favour, and I fully accept that I may not even be around when the full fruits of what I need to do are probably going to be recognised.

"But I will do that now and I'm going to back my own instincts, and every day I'm going to remind myself why I walked into that athletics club at the age of 11 and the things that people did to help me along the way.

"I want to make sure I'm surrounded by people on that journey who are not just simply there because they've got a plastic accreditation around their neck, get the best seats in the stadium, and have courtesy cars take them everywhere.

"I've got to make the journey with people that I really know are absolutely, at their core, lovers of my sport."

He said he launched a review the day after he won the IAAF presidency and he is speeding it up in the face of this week's report.

He said: "Clearly in light of what has emerged in the last week I've accelerated that and I know the people that I will make this journey with."

Mayor of London Boris Johnson earlier rejected suggestions the 2012 Olympics were sabotaged, and said Team GB beat Russia fairly without the "assistance of any performance-enhancing drugs".

Team GB finished third in the medal table at the Olympics three years ago, one place ahead of Russia thanks to a haul of 29 golds.

Russia faces being banned from the Rio 2016 Olympics after the investigation.

After arriving in Jerusalem as part of his trade mission in Israel and the Palestinian territories, Mr Johnson said Lord Coe and the authorities must be supported in their efforts to "clear up" the sport.

He told ITV News: "I think it's very serious if there was corruption, if there was drug-taking and doping in any athletic competition.

"I don't think it frankly detracts at all from the success of London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, but we must hope that Seb Coe and the authorities in international athletics clear it up as soon as possible."

Asked if the 2012 event was sabotaged, the Conservative MP said: "No, not at all. Look, it was a very successful Games, one of the greatest Games ever - the greatest Games ever."

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