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athletics

Coe concedes IAAF sloppiness over Russia doping culture

Sebastian Coe was the chairman of the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics before becoming IAAF president.
Sebastian Coe was the chairman of the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics before becoming IAAF president. Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

Athletics' top administrator Sebastian Coe acknowledged on Sunday that his governing body failed to be sufficiently vigilant while Russian athletes and coaches used illegal performance enhancing substances.

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Coe, the head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), conceded his organisation should have been more alert in a column for a British newspaper.

The lack of attention has led to the provisional suspension of Russia over allegations of state-sponsored doping.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Coe cited a famous phrase from the author Edmund Burke: "It is necessary only for good men to do nothing for evil to triumph."

Coe, who won Olympic gold in the 1500 metres in 1980 in Moscow and 1984 in Los Angeles, added: "It is an observation that stabs between the ribs, and something that I have thought about restlessly and incessantly over the past awful week for athletics.

"The best way to protect clean athletes is to be unflinching in our commitment to them and not just in words.

"We have to create structures that are always in their corner and here none of us come out very well, including my federation. The architecture of anti-doping has failed them."

In August, just before beating fellow IAAF vice-president Sergei Bubka in the election to replace Lamnine Diack as president, Coe had referred to claims about suspicious blood profiles involving some athletes as "a declaration of war on my sport".

But in his column, the 59-year-old Englishman said he recognised the role of a German television documentary in leading to the three investigations which exposed Russia's misconduct.

"Could I, should I have inserted myself into the three independent investigations?" Coe asked. "Possibly. Should we all have been more alert and in tune with our natural instincts? Almost certainly.

"That is probably the toughest truth to face, but the sport must if we are to start our recovery. And the search for the answer will be my North Star."

The IAAF council suspended Russia on Friday following the publication of a report by an independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on mass doping in Russian athletics.

Although the suspension is provisional, it will be a race for Russia to put its house in order before next summer's Olmpic Games in Rio.

The length of Russia's exile depends on the country implementing adequate anti-doping measures.

 

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