IAAF president says these are “dark days” for athletics and that the sport faces a “long road to redemption”

Seb Coe has said these are “dark days” for athletics but that he is “more determined than ever” to rebuild trust in the sport.

The president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme on Sunday (November 8), the day before an independent commission, set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), is to publish a report.

The independent commission, which is chaired by WADA’s founding president Dick Pound, was formed after the broadcast of an ARD documentary – ‘Top-secret doping: How Russia makes its winners’ – which was aired in December 2014. The first part of the independent commission’s report is due to be delivered at a press conference in Geneva on Monday (November 9).

Former IAAF president Lamine Diack is under investigation by French prosecutors, while on Friday the IAAF Ethics Commission confirmed that Papa Massata Diack, the son of Lamine Diack, is among four people facing disciplinary action following its own investigation.

Coe told Sportsweek that there was “clear shock, a great deal of anger and a lot of sadness” when he heard that Lamine Diack, who had been president of the sport’s world governing body for 16 years before Coe succeeded him in August, was under investigation.

“These are dark days for our sport but I’m more determined than ever to rebuild the trust in our sport,” said Coe. “It is not going to be a short journey. The day after I got elected I started a massive review. Understandably, in the light of the allegations that were made at the beginning of the week, that review has been accelerated and I am determined to rebuild and repair the sport with my council colleagues. But this is a long road to redemption.

“Public trust will not come back quickly,” he added. “We need to look at ourselves here. This is not something that we can absolve ourselves of. This is a very, very bad moment for our sport. It has to start with change but I am determined to push that change through. I will do anything that is necessary in order to do that.”

Coe also said that he had not been aware of any allegations against Lamine Diack until this week.

“That was the first that I had heard of them and I think that is almost certainly the case for virtually everybody in our sport,” said the IAAF president.

In an “effort to be as transparent as possible”, the IAAF also on Sunday published a quote from Coe which had been given to the Sunday Times and Reuters.

“Every doping case currently being investigated by WADA was first identified by the IAAF through its athlete biological passport (ABP) programme,” read the quote. “Every athlete found in violation has been charged and sanctioned. The IAAF believes the period of disqualification of results was too leniently applied by the Russian Federation and has been seeking an extension of these disqualifications through the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) in fairness of clean athletes. The cases are currently pending before CAS.

“The best way to cover up an anti-doping case is NOT to test athletes at all. Through our ABP program the IAAF has tested more than 5000 athletes since 2009. We will continue to lead the fight against drugs in sport on behalf of all clean athletes. Those who cheat will be caught. Those who are caught will be thoroughly investigated. And the guilty will face the fullest sanctions available.

“That people in our sport have allegedly extorted money from athletes guilty of doping violations is abhorrent. That they were not able to cover up the doping results is testament to the system that the IAAF and WADA have jointly put in place.

“We are not complacent. Where there are fragilities in the system that may have allowed extortion, no matter how unsuccessful, we will strengthen them and the independent integrity unit which I will establish next month will include an independent tribunal to hear all integrity-related violations committed by international-level athletes and their support personnel. We will take the hearing process out of the hands of individual member federations.”

The first part of the report by WADA’s independent commission is due to be made public at 2pm GMT on Monday, with a video recording of the press conference set to be made available on the WADA website after the conference.