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Coe backed to lead IAAF despite damning report

By Martyn Ziegler

Published 15/01/2016

Close attention: Lord Coe reads the latest WADA report,
Close attention: Lord Coe reads the latest WADA report,

Lord Coe has received crucial backing to remain as IAAF president despite another damning report on athletics’ doping scandal and admitting that he leads a “failed organisation”.

Coe also apologised for some “clumsy” responses to the crisis which has engulfed athletics after a new report by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s independent commission identified serious failures in the IAAF.

The commission said the IAAF Council — which included Coe — “could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics”.

It stated Coe’s right-hand man Nick Davies, who stepped aside from his position as IAAF chief of staff last month, was “well aware of Russian ‘skeletons’ in the cupboard”.

Despite those findings, commission chairman Dick Pound said the double Olympic 1,500m champion Coe remains the best man to reform the IAAF after years of corruption and nepotism under his Senegalese predecessor Lamine Diack, who orchestrated a conspiracy to secure bribes from athletes to cover up positive drugs tests and used his two sons to collect the money.

Speaking in Munich after the publication, Coe said: “The moment I became president in August, the IAAF was being criticised for all sorts of things.

“If, on occasions, my language has been clumsy, I apologise. It’s never meant to be. I know how serious this is. The overall issue about whether or not we are in an organisation that has failed, I tell you we have. I know that. We are a failed organisation.

“I’m sorry if my language has in any way demonstrated a sort of a lack of understanding about the depth of this.”

He added the corruption and extortion revelations had been “absolutely abhorrent”, saying: “We have to make sure our sport can never ever return to the horror show that we’ve witnessed in the last few years.”

The commission laid bare the influence of Diack, who created a cabal which took control of Russian doping cases, and then extorted money from athletes to cover up positive tests.

The report states: “The IAAF Council could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics and the non-enforcement of applicable anti-doping rules. There was an evident lack of political appetite within the IAAF to confront Russia with the full extent of its known and suspected doping activities.”

But Pound told a news conference in Munich: “This is a fabulous opportunity for the IAAF to seize this opportunity and under strong leadership move forward from this, but there is an enormous amount of work to do.

“I can’t think of anyone better than Lord Coe to lead that.

“I don’t want to lay the failures of an entire council at the feet of one individual. You learn from experience. And experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.”

Pound told reporters it would have been difficult for Coe to act alone even though all IAAF Council members would have been aware of the nepotism and problems with Russian doping.

He added: “For a council member to say at the time, ‘Lamine, what the ****? You’ve got your personal counsel being paid, you’ve got two of your kids working here, this doesn’t look good for us’ — that’s the sort of thing that’s very hard to happen.”

Pound’s report was tougher on the IAAF Council, saying it was too easy just to blame the failures on Diack, who along with his son Papa Massata Diack and other officials is under investigation by French police.

It adds: “Failure to have addressed such governance issues is an IAAF failure that cannot be blamed on a small group on miscreants. The opportunity existed for the IAAF to have addressed governance issues. No advantage was taken of that opportunity.”

In terms of Davies, the report states he did not mention any knowledge of the delays in reporting doping violations when he was interviewed by the commission in June. A subsequent leaked email from him to Papa Massata Diack showed Davies discussing a plan to delay the announcement of positive tests by Russian athletes.

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