Coe sets out to mend IAAF's credibility

By cleaning up scandal-tainted athletics, he hopes to be able to attract younger audience

PARIS • International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe on Tuesday set out his roadmap to "restore trust" in the scandal-mired sport, expressing his desire to transform track and field into a clean sport attractive to a younger population.

Athletics has been shaken to its core since Coe took over the reins of the IAAF from Lamine Diack after the world championships in August.

Russia was provisionally suspended from track and field after an initial report by the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) detailed systematic, state-sponsored doping and related corruption in Russia.

The IAAF is now scrambling to salvage the sport's credibility just eight months away from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Diack remains under French police investigation for corruption linked to doping cover-ups. With that in mind, Coe said his roadmap "recognises problems in two distinct areas, in the governing body and in the sport itself, the consequence of which has been a breakdown of trust in athletics".

"In addressing these problems, the roadmap importantly identifies the need for separate solutions," read an IAAF statement. "To rebuild confidence, the IAAF must become an accountable, responsible and responsive organisation, while the sport must adopt a values-based culture where future athletes learn from clean athletes, coaches and officials."

Coe added: "Be under no illusion about how seriously I take these issues. I am president of an international federation which is under serious investigations and I represent a sport under intense scrutiny.

"My vision is to have a sport that attracts more young people. The average age of those watching track and field is 55 years old. This is not sustainable.

"The key to making that vision a reality is creating a sport that people once more trust in.

"Athletics must be a sport that athletes, fans, sponsors, media and parents alike know is safe to compete in on a level playing field and one in which clean effort is rewarded and celebrated."

Steps to be taken include establishing "lines of responsibility" within the IAAF, and a forensic review of operations and finance. There will be greater accountability and vetting of IAAF officials and more transparency and communication from the independent IAAF Ethics Board.

The IAAF constitution will also be rewritten "to make sure it is modern, fit for purpose and capable of delivering the guidance and protection that is required".

Turning to competition, the roadmap envisages the establishment of a "separate integrity unit for athletics" before the Rio Olympics.

The unit will ensure greater independence in reviewing key issues impacting upon the integrity of competition such as doping, corruption, betting and age manipulation.

The anti-doping budget will be doubled to US$8 million (S$11.5 million), as soon as the integrity unit is up and running, allowing the current international testing pool of athletes to be doubled to 1,000 and probes into doping schemes in athletics involving athlete support personnel.

With immediate effect, the roadmap said, federations had to show greater accountability or risk sanctions for serious non-compliance.

The second part of Wada's independent commission report is due to be released on Jan 14.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2016, with the headline 'Coe sets out to mend IAAF's credibility'. Print Edition | Subscribe