IAAF head vote Aug 19: Singapore Athletics president Tang Weng Fei to back Bubka

Tang Weng Fei.
Tang Weng Fei.THE NEW PAPER FILE PHOTO

Singapore Athletics chief Tang more impressed with his handling of doping crisis than Coe's

The world athletics body, IAAF, will have a new president for the first time since 1999, with incumbent Lamine Diack set to step down at the 50th IAAF Congress in Beijing next Wednesday.

Vying for the top post are Britain's double Olympic champion Sebastian Coe and Ukranian pole vault legend Sergey Bubka. Both men are currently vice-presidents of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Ahead of the election, and having read the manifestos of both men, Singapore Athletics (SA) president Tang Weng Fei said he will vote for Bubka, a six-time world champion and former world record holder.

Tang, running for the position of treasurer on the IAAF council next week, told The Straits Times: "Both are pretty good candidates, and have developed excellent manifestos. Having read through both very thoroughly, SA will endorse Bubka as IAAF president.

"This is a time when we are faced with serious challenges, and we believe Sergey has the commitment, diplomacy, and deep understanding of the sport to take it to new heights."

Track and field has been hit hard by reports from German broadcaster ARD/WDR and British newspaper The Sunday Times this month, which alleged that the IAAF had failed to investigate hundreds of dubious blood test results between 2001 and 2012.

THE PRIME CANDIDATE

This is a time when we are faced with serious challenges, and we believe Sergey has the commitment, diplomacy, and deep understanding of the sport to take it to new heights.

TANG WENG FEI, president of Singapore Athletics, explaining why Bubka's candidacy holds appeal

Tang, 61, said he was impressed by Bubka's response to the crisis.

DEFINING HIS OWN POSSIBLE ROLE

If elected, I'm keen to explore the possibility of having a marketing representative in each continent.

TANG, who is running for IAAF treasurer, wants to boost sponsorship and give athletes a sense of being valued

Last week, Bubka made the case for greater transparency in the sport as it pursues a "zero tolerance policy against doping cheats", while Coe called the allegations a "declaration of war" on athletics.

The SA chief also commended Bubka's dedication to working on the ground, citing the latter's work in Africa and Thailand, as well as his intention to take on the post full-time.

Last December, a month before he announced his candidacy, Bubka also met nine South-east Asian member federations in Singapore for an impromptu session, as he was returning from Bangkok.

Said Tang: "While he was here, there was no mention of votes. It was a simple question-and-answer session. He also has tailor-made programmes, and we believe he has the qualities to actually implement them."

Meanwhile, Tang said he is quietly optimistic about his chances of becoming only the second Singaporean to be part of the IAAF council.

Veteran athletics coach Maurice Nicholas was a member of the IAAF council from 1981 to 1995.

Other Singaporeans who have served on international sporting bodies include Singapore Bowling Federation chief Jessie Phua, who was president of world bowling body Federation Internationale des Quilleurs from 2007-2011, and Singapore Rugby Union president Low Teo Ping, who was vice-president of the International Sailing Federation from 2004-2012.

Tang is up against German Athletics Association president Clemens Prokop, Royal Spanish Athletics Federation chief Jose Maria Odriozola and Oceania Athletics Association president Geoff Gardner.

Said Tang: "I hope to bring my experience in business, especially in terms of marketing.

"If elected, I'm keen to explore the possibility of having a marketing representative in each continent, who will link up with the superstars and go out to corporations to look for sponsorships. Revenue aside, it also gives the athletes a sense of being valued, even after retirement."

He also allayed fears that the post will take up too much time, and pointed to the net benefit of having a Singaporean on the IAAF executive committee.

Said Tang: "Definitely I will have to split up my time, (but) the net effect is positive. There'd be more diversity in terms of where we can send our athletes and coaches for training stints overseas, especially when I get to know the other federations as IAAF treasurer."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2015, with the headline 'S'PORE TO BACK BUBKA FOR ROLE OF IAAF HEAD'. Print Edition | Subscribe