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Britain’s Sebastian Coe elected new world athletics chief at IAAF congress

REUTERS/Jason Lee

Britain’s Sebastian Coe on Wednesday became the new president of world athletics, receiving 115 votes to Ukrainian Sergey Bubka’s 92 votes. Coe compared his victory, at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) congress in Beijing, to celebrations surrounding the birth of his children.

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“For most of us in this room, we would conclude that the birth of our children is a big moment in our lives, probably the biggest,” Coe told the congress.

“But I have to say that being given the opportunity to work with all of you and shape the future of our sport is probably the second biggest and (most) momentous occasion of my life."

Coe takes over from Lamine Diack, who said that the sport was in “safe hands” with Coe.

Diack said the “white-haired generation has done what it can, now it’s over to the black-haired generation”.

Ukrainian former pole vault champion Bubka was successful in his bid for reelection as IAAF vice-president.

Qatari Dahlan al-Hamad, Cameroon’s Hamad Kalkaba Malboum and Cuba’s Alberto Juantorena also secured positions as vice-presidents alongside Bubka.

One of Coe’s first jobs as IAAF president is likely to be defending athletics from damning allegations of widespread doping.

The credibility of the IAAF and athletics as a whole has come under attack following reports in the British and German media that a leaked database of tests had revealed “extraordinary” levels of doping.

The IAAF called the allegations “sensationalist and confusing” and also put down claims that it tried to block the publication of a document that showed extensive doping among athletes.

Doping issues are likely to be a feature at the Bird’s Nest stadium for the world championships which kick off on Saturday in Beijing.

In other news from the IAAF congress, Kosovo and South Sudan were both accepted as members of the federation on Wednesday. Kosovo gained membership with 187 votes to 13, while South Sudan received 192 votes for and 12 against.

Members of the federation also upheld Gabon’s suspension 133 votes to 63. Gabon had been suspended following government intervention in its athletics federation.

Facts about Sebastian Coe, new IAAF president:

  • 58-year-old Coe won Olympic gold in the 1500 metres at both the 1980 and 1984 games.
  • He served as a Conservative MP for Falmouth and Cambourne between 1992 and 1997.
  • London-born Coe headed the bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics in the British capital.
  • In May 2000 he was made a life peer and given the title Baron Coe of Ranmore in the County of Surrey.
  • He became an IAAF vice-president in 2007 and was reelected for a second term in August 2011.

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