IAAF president responds to questions at a Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee meeting investigating blood doping in athletics
President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Seb Coe, has said he will put systems in place to make sure that the sport is responsible, accountable and responsive, as he replied to questions from British MPs at the House of Commons on Wednesday (December 3).
The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee was holding its second session on blood doping in athletics, following allegations made in a series of articles published by the Sunday Times earlier this year. The first of the articles included details of blood-test data which the newspaper said was leaked by a whistleblower.
“What do I want out of this sport? I want a responsible, accountable, responsive sport. I want a sport that people can again trust,” said Coe, who was elected into the top role at the sport’s world governing body in August.
“I can put these systems in place because I will and I know how to do it.
“The issue actually over the longer haul, which I recognise is probably the most challenging, is that returning trust to the sport is going to be a longer journey. It will probably see out my mandate.”
Asked why he is the person that can “clean up the situation”, Coe replied: “Because I have the experience to do that and I have the support of the sport to do that. Have there been failures? Yes. Will I fix them? Absolutely.
“We need to create more independence in the system. The integrity unit will do that.”
The IAAF Council recently agreed to the formation of the integrity unit “to keep athletics clean and to safeguard the integrity of the IAAF.” At the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee meeting, Coe added that that integrity unit “will go a long way to introducing greater independence into the system, lowering the walls and creating a far greater level of external scrutiny.”
Coe had received criticism for describing media investigations and reports on blood results earlier this year as a “declaration of war on our sport”. On Wednesday he explained that while he could have worded his views differently, he stood by the sentiment.
“It probably expressed my frustration and yes, anger, at the time,” he said.
“I stick by the sentiments,” he added. “I probably might have chosen different language.
“The issue that I took exception to was the very selective use of data that could not possibly be used, in and of itself, to prove positive tests.”
Coe, who recently stepped down from his ambassadorial role with Nike, was also asked about the decision to award the 2021 World Championships to Eugene after the usual bidding process was bypassed.
Stating that he had never heard of Eugene, Chris Matheson MP said the city is “not a credible world championships host” and sarcastically compared it to his constituency of Chester and Ellesmere Port, but in response Coe commented: “Eugene was a perfectly credible city to stage a world athletics championships and frankly with more athletics tradition that most other cities.”
On Wednesday Coe also replied to questions on Russia, with the All-Russia Athletic Federation having recently been suspended as an IAAF Member, as well as on comments he had made about former IAAF president Lamine Diack at the time of his election in August and the upcoming second part of a WADA independent commission report among other topics. The full three-hour meeting can be viewed here.