Lamine Diack today confirmed that he will step down as President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in 2015 and that he will anoint a successor, which is expected to be Sebastian Coe, the former chairman of London 2012.
The Senegalese, who turned 80 last month, had announced after being re-elected at the IAAF Congress in Daegu two years ago for a fourth term that he would retire at the end of this current four-year mandate.
But he had said the same after winning the 2007 election in Osaka and there had been reports that he planned to stay on beyond 2015.
Diack, who has led athletics’ world governing body since November 1999 following the sudden death of Primo Nebiolo, has now quashed their reports by confirming that he will move aside at the 2015 IAAF Congress, which is due to be held on the eve of that year’s World Championships in Beijing.
“In Beijing I will give the flag over,” he said here, where he is attending the Sainsbury’s Anniversary Games, which are being held to mark a year since the start of London 2012. “There is no chance I will carry on.”
The fact he made his remarks with Coe, vice-president of the IAAF, sat next to him would appear to be highly significant especially as Diack promised when the time comes he would give clear guidance on who he wanted to succeed him in a bid to avoid what could be a potentially damaging election campaign.
“I will say who should be my successor and the reason why,” said Diack.
Coe, the double Olympic 1500 meters champion who set 11 world records during his career, has emerged as the favorite to take over the IAAF following the huge success of London 2012.
His only realistic challenger is Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka, who is also an IAAF vice-president and the greatest pole vaulter in history, having set a total of 35 world records, including the current outdoor mark of 6.14 meters, which he established in 1994.
Bubka was considered for a long time the natural successor to Diack but is now currently standing for election to replace Jacques Rogge as President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Whoever succeeds Diack will be only the sixth President in the history of the IAAF, which was founded in 1912.
If Coe is elected he will be only the second Briton to hold the position, following Lord David Burghely, President between between 1946 and 1976.
The similarities between Burghley, who was one of the central characters in the Oscar-winning film Chariots of Fire, and Coe are striking.
Both are Olympic champions, Burghley having won the 400m hurdles at Amsterdam in 1928 and Coe the 1500m at Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984.
Both are former Conservative politicians, Burghley having served Peterborough from 1931 to 1943, while Coe was the MP for Falmouth and Camborne from 1992 until 1997.
Both are former heads of Olympic Organizing Committees, Burghley having been chairman when London hosted the Games in 1948.
And finally, both have served as chairman of the British Olympic Association, a role Burghley held for 30 years after being elected in 1936 while Coe took it on last November.
Burghley was replaced as IAAF President by Adriaan Paulen in 1976 but the Dutchman served only one term as President before he was replaced by controversial Italian Nebiolo, who persuaded him to step down.
If Coe does succeed Diack it would be almost certain that he would be made a member of the IOC.
Although it is not automatic that the IAAF President becomes a member it would seem inconceivable that Coe would not be invited to join sport’s most exclusive club.
Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.