International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe on Tuesday set out his roadmap to “restore trust” in scandal-mired athletics, expressing his desire to transform track and field into a clean sport attractive to a younger population.
Athletics has been shaken to its core since Coe took over from former IAAF president Lamine Diack after the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August last year.
Russia were provisionally suspended from track and field over accusations of “state-sponsored” doping as the IAAF scrambled to salvage the sport’s credibility just nine months out from this year’s Rio Olympics.
Diack remains under French police investigation for corruption linked to doping cover-ups in world athletics.
BREAKDOWN OF TRUST
With that in mind, Coe said his roadmap “recognizes problems in two distinct areas — in the governing body and in the sport itself — the consequence of which has been a breakdown of trust in athletics.”
“In addressing these problems, the roadmap importantly identifies the need for separate solutions. To rebuild confidence, the IAAF must become an accountable, responsible and responsive organization, while the sport must adopt a values-based culture where future athletes learn from clean athletes, coaches and officials,” Coe said.
“Be under no illusion about how seriously I take these issues. I am president of an international federation, which is under serious investigations, and I represent a sport under intense scrutiny. My vision is to have a sport that attracts more young people. The average age of those watching track and field is 55 years old. This is not sustainable,” he added.
“The key to making that vision a reality is creating a sport that people once more trust in. Athletics must be a sport that athletes, fans, sponsors, media and parents alike know is safe to compete in on a level playing field and one in which clean effort is rewarded and celebrated,” he said.
Steps to be taken include establishing “lines of responsibility” within the IAAF and a forensic review of operations and finance, he said.
There is to be greater accountability and vetting of IAAF officials, and more transparency and communication from the independent IAAF Ethics Board (formerly commission).
The IAAF constitution is also to be rewritten “to make sure it is modern, fit for purpose and capable of delivering the guidance and protection that is required.”
Turning to competition, the roadmap envisages the establishment before Rio of a “separate integrity unit for athletics that ensures greater independence in reviewing key issues impacting upon the integrity of competition, such as doping, corruption, betting and age manipulation.”
The anti-doping budget is to be doubled to US$8 million as soon as the integrity unit is up and running, allowing the current international testing pool of athletes to be doubled to 1,000 and probes into doping schemes in athletics involving athlete support personnel.
With immediate effect, federations must show greater accountability or risk sanctions for serious non-compliance, the roadmap said.
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