Pound blasts Coe for inaction on IAAF corruption

LONDON • Sebastian Coe has been criticised for acting too slowly to reform athletics by the man leading the investigation into corruption inside the sport's world governing body.

Dick Pound, chairman of the independent commission that will deliver another damning report next Thursday, said that Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), should have done more when he was vice-president to Lamine Diack.

The Senegalese has been accused of "active corruption" by French magistrates on suspicion that he took €1 million (S$1.56 million) in bribes to cover up drug violations. He has denied all allegations.

On Thursday, another dark day for the sport, the IAAF ethics commission gave life bans to Diack's son, Papa Massata Diack, and the former treasurer, Valentin Balakhnichev, for their alleged roles in a blackmail plot.

SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY

In a sense, this is worse. This gets down to affecting the outcome on the field of play. It's about the integrity of competition.

DICK POUND, when comparing the degree of corruption within the IAAF to the ongoing scandal in world football's governing body Fifa.

Pound warned that there was more to come.

"Coe and (Sergey) Bubka were there," he said of Diack's vice-presidents. "It's easy enough if you want to get a governance review. They had a (19th-century) constitution in a 21st-century organisation. They had an opportunity a long time ago to address issues of governance, and you saw from the International Olympic Committee what happens if you don't do that - you get your t**s in the wringer."

It is believed that Coe, who could justifiably counter that he did make a significant governance change by setting up the IAAF Ethics Commission, will not be criticised directly in the report by the panel, which was appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency after a German television investigation into doping and corruption.

Pound praised athletics administrators for the speed with which they banned Russia after the commission's report, but rejected Coe's warning of a witch-hunt against clean athletes, saying: "If the IAAF does not acknowledge it had a problem, then it will be hard to put in place the changes they need to make."

Coe, who unveiled planned changes in his "road map for rebuilding trust" this week, said that the punishments "could not send a stronger message".

Alexei Melnikov, a Russian coach, was also banned for life and accused of blackmailing Liliya Shobukhova, a former London Marathon winner, to cover up drug violations. Gabriel Dolle, who left as IAAF anti-doping director in 2014, was banned for five years.

However, Pound said that next week's report would show that the scandal was worse than that engulfing Fifa.

"With very few exceptions, I have not seen international sports federation presidents so involved in corruption, as opposed to moving money around like the Fifa boys.

"In a sense, this is worse. This gets down to affecting the outcome on the field of play. It's about the integrity of competition."

The first part of former Wada chief Pound's report led to Russia being suspended by the IAAF. The second will focus on a "multi-faceted conspiracy" involving the IAAF and allegations arising from a leaked database of more than 12,000 blood tests from 2001 to 2012.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2016, with the headline 'Pound blasts Coe for inaction on IAAF corruption'. Print Edition | Subscribe