Athletics: Coe's silence over damning drugs scandal not going down well in the sport

LONDON (REUTERS) - Sebastian Coe has long been one of the most outspoken critics of doping in athletics, yet the newly-elected president of the sport's governing body has remained silent this week in the face of potentially its most damning drugs scandal.

Coe, in the top International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) job for less than three months, is facing his sport's second major doping controversy in the period, the most recent of which was labelled "worse than Fifa" by his former British athletics team-mate Daley Thompson.

Coe's predecessor Lamine Diack and the IAAF's former doping chief Gabriel Dolle are under investigation over allegations that they accepted massive bribes to cover up positive doping tests.

While the world reels in the face of yet another shocking indictment of sports maladministration, Coe has yet to utter a word on the matter.

A coincidence of timing meant that an interview he gave to Britain's Daily Telegraph appeared on Thursday, a day after the news of the Diack investigation was released by French authorities.

"The crowds have to know that what they are watching is genuine. Parents have got to know that they are encouraging their children to go into a sport where they will not be harmed," Coe said. "We will not shy away from this."

While he cannot be held accountable for the actions of his predecessor and his son - who has left his IAAF role while under investigation - or the other IAAF officials in the spotlight, Coe's silence is not going down well in the sport.

"We said when Seb Coe took over that the first 100 days would define his tenure. And these latest developments, if they are true...I don't think anything much worse could happen to the sport than for the former president to have colluded with the Russian Federation over doping tests," former Olympic and world decathlon champion Thompson told Talksport Radio. "This to my mind is a 10 or 11 on the Lance Armstrong scale. This is much worse that what Sepp Blatter has been doing.

"Obviously, this has not happened on Seb Coe's watch. But he needs to have a root and branch reform...maybe he needs to make a stand and say what he's going to do about it."