Fri, Aug 14, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Independent agency could help in battle against doping: Coe


British middle-distance great Sebastian Coe said an independent anti-doping agency in athletics would help the sport in its battle against drug cheats.

Coe, a candidate for the presidency of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the sport’s global governing body, said an independent body would ease the workload of both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and national athletics associations.

“For many federations, this is a very onerous burden,” Coe told international news agency reporters in a conference call on Wednesday as he again insisted the IAAF was fully committed to weeding out blood doping and other forms of drug cheating, contrary to recent media accusations.

“It is costly; it ties them up often in expensive litigation,” Coe said. “You guys [the press] sit there not really understanding and quite rightly, questioning, the speed and length of time it takes between a positive sample and a sanction.”

“It is really important we close down at every opportunity the perception that in some way what we are doing is mired in conflict,” he said.

Coe, the Olympic 1,500m champion at the 1980 and 1984 Games, is standing against Ukrainian former pole vaulter Sergey Bubka in the race to succeed Lamine Diack as IAAF president, with an election scheduled for Wednesday next week on the eve of the World Championships in Beijing.

The vote comes against the backdrop of allegations made by Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper and German broadcaster ARD that, based on a leak from an IAAF database, a third of medals in endurance races at Olympics and world champions from 2001 to 2012 had been won by athletes with suspicious blood readings.

Coe counseled “caution” to any athletes feeling compelled to follow the example of Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m champion Mo Farah, who plans to publish his own blood date in a bid to show he is a clean competitor.

“I would hate them to feel they are under pressure to do this because if they don’t there is somehow an assumption they are guilty,” Coe said.

Coe also said that Justin Gatlin, one of the favorites for the 100m in Beijing — along with Usain Bolt — after running the fastest time this year (9.74 seconds) would have to be treated like any other eligible competitor even though the American, the 2004 Olympic champion, served a four-year ban from 2006 to 2010 after testing positive for testosterone.

“Justin Gatlin is eligible to compete. If you are saying to me would I rather not have athletes that have served bans competing in major championships, the answer is probably yes, but he is eligible to compete and he should be given the respect as a competitor who is eligible to compete,” Coe said.

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