Lord Coe has defended the IAAF’s drug-testing system and said it was time to “come out fighting” to protect the reputation of the sport.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Coe commented on reports alleging the IAAF had failed to act on suspicious blood tests involving hundreds of athletes over a 10-year period.
“It is a declaration of war on my sport,” Coe, an IAAF vice-president, said. “I take pretty grave exception to that. This, for me, is a fairly seminal moment. There is nothing in our history of competence and integrity in drug testing that warrants this kind of attack. We should not be cowering. We should come out fighting.”
Only weeks before the world championships in Beijing, the sport was thrown into turmoil after the German broadcaster ARD/WRD and the Sunday Times alleged blood doping was rampant, citing test results from an IAAF database that were leaked by a whistleblower.
“Nobody should underestimate the anger at the way our sport has been portrayed,” said Coe, who is standing for IAAF president in the election on 19 August. “The fightback has to start here. We cannot be portrayed as a sport that is in any way dragging our heels.”
The media reports examined the results of 12,000 blood tests involving 5,000 athletes from 2001 to 2012 and concluded that 800 were suspicious. The reports said that 146 medals – including 55 golds – in disciplines ranging from the 800m to the marathon at the Olympics and world championships were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests.
“The use of that database, however it got into their possession, displayed either breathtaking ignorance or a level of malevolence around a set of readings you can simply cannot extrapolate beyond,” Coe said. “The idea that my sport sat there either covering up wrongdoing or just being incompetent could not be wider of the mark.”
My emphasis. I suppose it is possible that he genuinely didn’t know what was going on in the IAAF and hadn’t heard all the rumours. But if that’s true, people might wonder if he’s able to clean the house.