LONDON • The two men bidding to lead world athletics into a new era, Sebastian Coe and Sergey Bubka, offered contrasting reactions yesterday to the latest doping storm to engulf the sport's governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
While Coe, who is vying with fellow Olympic champion Bubka to win the IAAF presidency on Aug 19, went on the attack, his rival offered a more conciliatory tone.
A damning report in British newspaper The Sunday Times and by German broadcaster ARD/WDR at the weekend accused the IAAF of failing to investigate hundreds of "suspicious" drug tests between 2001 and 2012.
The report comes just weeks before the Aug 22-30 World Championships in Beijing.
The IAAF hit back in a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday.
There is nothing in our history of competence and integrity in drug-testing that warrants this kind of attack.
We cannot fail because the world would lose faith not only in athletics but in other sports and that would be a catastrophe for young people worldwide.
Vice-president Coe, who said the claims were "a declaration of war" on athletics, also offered an impassioned defence of the sport which he had graced twice as Olympic 1,500m champion.
"It is a declaration of war on my sport. There is nothing in our history of competence and integrity in drug-testing that warrants this kind of attack," said Coe.
"The fightback has to start here."
Fellow IAAF vice-president Bubka, the 1988 Olympic pole vault champion, said that the sport should be more transparent.
"Athletics is the most fundamental of all sports and the way the world sees athletics influences the way it views all sports," he added.
"We cannot fail because the world would lose faith not only in athletics but in other sports and that would be a catastrophe for young people worldwide.
"We must be more pro-active and even more transparent in our aggressive pursuit of a zero tolerance policy against doping cheats."
The two news organisations reported that 800 of the 12,000 blood tests involving 5,000 athletes were suspicious, indicating suspected widespread blood doping in athletics between 2001 and 2012.
However, Coe is disputing what the findings suggest.
"What has angered me and angered our sport is the betrayal that we are doing absolutely nothing when we have led the way on this and have consistently done so," said the Briton.
"Every athlete at the World Championships in 2011 and 2013 was subject to blood tests, that's unprecedented ," he added.
"We spend two million dollars a year (on anti-doping)...
"We have got some of the highest-profile names out of the sport in the last few years.
"This has caused us intense embarrassment but we have always taken the view that we would rather have short-term embarrassment and protect the clean athletes."