Athletics remains an ostensibly clean sport, incoming IAAF president Sebastian Coe insisted Sunday at the climax of the world championships in Beijing.
Only two positive cases, both Kenyans, have been reported at the worlds in the Chinese capital, but the IAAF found itself mired in allegations of doping in the build-up to the championships.
Media reports claimed that data from 12,000 blood tests between 2001 and 2012 had revealed an “extraordinary extent of cheating” and that more than 50 Olympic and world gold medals during that period could be tainted by drug use.
The allegations by the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD triggered lurid headlines likening athletics to cycling, whose dark history of doping scandals culminated in disgraced American Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
After beating Ukrainian pole vault legend Sergey Bubka in a vote to succeed Lamine Diack as president of the IAAF, Coe vowed zero tolerance for drug cheats after previously blasting media revelations as a “declaration of war”.
Coe, a two-time Olympic 1500m champion, again defended his sport on Sunday.
“It is ostensibly a clean sport, we have our challenges… and no one would deny that,” Coe said.
“It’s a global challenge that every sport faces, but there is not anybody of significance in my sport that doesn’t have a non-negotiable view about the importance of maintaining a clean sport.
“Can it be cleaner? I hope so. Are there things we can do differently in future? I dare say so.
“But there is nothing in our history that should lead you to conclude that we haven’t done everything within our gift and our power to do as much in that area as possible.
“Can we do more? Almost certainly, but that’s the human condition.”
One of the key points of Coe’s manifesto to become IAAF president was his desire to establish an independent anti-doping agency, moving away from links with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The Briton said there would likely be news on that issue “within six months”, adding: “We will continue to do what we’re doing.
“I have looked at measures to introduce maybe in some areas greater levels of independence.
“But that is not a response to the work of our professional internal teams, it’s a recognition that reality and perception sometimes get confused and we need to make sure that we do everything for the integrity of our sport and with our processes and procedures to give maximum confidence.
“Clean athletes have to absolutely know that we are in their corner and words are not simply enough. We need to apply practical application but that will be thought through over the next few months.” – Agence France-Presse