New IAAF president Sebastian Coe vows to boot out drug cheats
Lord Coe is determined to prove to a sceptical public that the International Association of Athletics Federations is committed to ridding the sport of drug cheats.
The former London 2012 chairman beat Ukrainian Sergey Bubka to the most powerful position in world athletics, as he was elected as the new president of the IAAF in a vote at its Congress in Beijing.
The two-time Olympic 1500 metres champion secured the support of the majority of the 207 IAAF member federations who voted, winning by 115 votes to 92.
Coe, who takes office at the end of the World Championships, which gets under way on Saturday, succeeds Lamine Diack, the 82-year-old from Senegal who has been president since 1999, and becomes only the sixth president in the IAAF’s 103-year history.
The 58-year-old’s elevation from vice-president comes at a crucial time for the organisation, with allegations of mass doping and cover-ups threatening to ruin the already fragile reputation of the sport.
The Briton, who has been a staunch and unapologetic defender of the IAAF’s anti-doping record, has pledged to set up an independent anti-doping agency for the sport inside his first 100 days in office.
He said: “There is a zero tolerance to the abuse of doping in my sport and I will maintain that to the very highest level of vigilance.”
Coe declined to go into the details of how his anti-doping body would work, saying it was something he had to discuss with his IAAF colleagues over the coming weeks.
But he did admit there was a perception that in-house drug testing created “conflicts” and “loopholes”.
He added: “We do have to recognise that there is too broad a view that this is something, whether real or perceived, (where) there are conflicts and there are loopholes and I think an independent system is what we need to close down any thought that we are doing anything other than being entirely vigilant about that.”
Coe has highlighted the need to overhaul the athletics calendar, increase commercial revenue, empower national federations and encourage young people into the sport.
But it is the fight against banned drugs which is set to be front and centre of his reign.
The IAAF has come under fierce attack amid allegations — which it vehemently denies — that it turned a blind eye to suspicious blood test results from hundreds of athletes and also blocked the publication of a report claiming a third of athletes at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea admitted doping.