Sebastian Coe has effectively had his short-term future as President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) secured after he received the backing of Richard Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission.
Pound’s Commission today released a second, 89-page, report today on the wrongdoing of Coe’s predecessor Lamine Diack, who was “responsible for organising and enabling the conspiracy and corruption that took place in the IAAF, according to their investigations.
Pound warned, though, that the corruption within the IAAF “cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own”.
He concluded that the IAAF’s ruling Council under Diack, including Coe, who served as vice-president, could not have been unaware that something was wrong involving Russian athletes suspected of having failed drugs tests.
The Canadian nevertheless claimed Coe, an observer here at today’s press conference, remained the right man for the job.
He “cannot think of anyone better” to take the organisation forward.
This opinion has already been fiercely criticised, with many believing it contradicts the report’s findings, but it will come as a huge relief to Coe, who now appears to have a mandate to try to take the sport forward.
“I’m very grateful for the personal endorsement of Dick but he’s not somebody that pulls his punches,” Coe, elected to replace Diack last August, said.
“I was very open with him and said I was very grateful for the work he has done and I really hoped that he did not think that me or the organisation was in denial about this.”
Coe received another boost when the WADA Commission confirmed the IAAF’s decision not to act upon 12,000 blood tests taken from 5,000 competitors up until 2012 as the correct one.
German TV channel ARD and the Sunday Times had last year criticised the IAAF for not taking action, but Pound ruled the data as “incomplete”, adding that it “could not” have been used to make prosecutions for doping prior to 2009.
Nowhere in the report is the IAAF criticised for the nature or quantity of its testing system.
It is only the extortion allegedly masterminded by a small cabal around Diack, including two of his sons, which receives criticism, as well as the inability of senior IAAF staff to notice and react to this.
Coe acknowledged much work lies ahead in repairing these structural flaws, not to mention the governing body’s reputation, stretched to breaking point.
“We can’t just sit here and say we deserve trust,” Coe said.
“We don’t – we have to win that back.
“You don’t sit there thinking this is the sport you started out in as an 11-year-old.
“I have one objective now – that is to get this back into safe hands.”
The damning allegations against Coe’s chief of staff Nick Davies, who stood down temporarily last month following allegations he had suggested delaying the name of Russian athletes who had tested positive, are a significant blow, however.
Davies is mentioned throughout the report and was “well aware of Russian skeletons in the cupboard”, according to Pound’s report.
He was also accused by Diack’s son, Papa Massata, of having accepted bribes to help ensure details involving Russian athletes facing drugs bans were covered-up.
Davies denies these allegations, the Pound report acknowledged.
Nick Butler at the Dolce Munich Unterschleissheim; this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz