Athletics: Rivals want Russians at Rio Olympics Games, claims Iaaf boss Coe

Trayvon Bromell of the USA (second right) comes in at first place, beating  Jamaica's Asafa Powell (fourth from left), during the men's 60 metres finals at the Iaaf World Indoor Championships.
Trayvon Bromell of the USA (second right) comes in at first place, beating Jamaica's Asafa Powell (fourth from left), during the men's 60 metres finals at the Iaaf World Indoor Championships.PHOTO: EPA

PORTLAND • World athletics chief Sebastian Coe says that he is saddened by Russia's absence from the World Indoor Championships and insists that many athletes want the country to return in time for August's Olympics.

The non-appearance of Russia's athletes in Oregon on Friday was the main talking point of the event, with the British 800m runner Lynsey Sharp and the US world championships 800m bronze medallist, Brenda Martinez, among those calling for the ban to be extended beyond Rio.

However, on the first day of these championships, the International Association of Athletics Federations (Iaaf) president struck a more nuanced tone.

"It saddens me that we're in this situation," said Coe. "I've fought long and hard for the rights of athletes, particularly clean athletes, so yes, it is painful."

One big name, Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, flopped after his suspect temperament failed him again. He had hoped to finally win a world title at the age of 33, but could not, even in the absence of compatriot and double Olympic champion Usain Bolt, who does not race indoors.

Powell had appeared the overwhelming favourite for the 60m after strolling through his heat and semi-final in 6.44sec. Those times, representing a new Jamaican record, placed him fifth on the all-time list.

Yet, in the final, his old insecurities resurfaced and he knew his fate early. He stumbled out of the blocks and only a late burst took him into second position in 6.50sec behind the exciting American prospect Trayvon Bromell, who won convincingly in 6.47sec.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 20, 2016, with the headline 'Rivals want Russians at Rio Games, claims Coe'. Print Edition | Subscribe