‘Zero tolerance’ for drug cheats, vows new chief Sebastian Coe

Beijing: Sebastian Coe vowed “zero tolerance” for drug cheats in track and field after winning a narrow vote to become the new president of world athletics body the IAAF today.

Coe pipped Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka 115-92 in the vote at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Congress in Beijing, but he has a tough task ahead of him. With a series of doping controversies at the top of Coe’s agenda when he takes office after the August 22-30 world championships in Beijing, the Briton said he and his new team would be “vigilant” in their crusade against cheats. There is a zero tolerance to abuse of doping in my sport and I will maintain that to the very highest level of vigilance,” said Coe, who won Olympic 1500m golds in the 1980 and 1984 Games.

I don’t want the thought that trust and integrity are only something that are rooted in challenges around doping in sport or doping in track and field. There is a universal problem with that in sport and we recognise that and we’ve been the lead role for that as long as I’ve been in the sport. That’s something I’m very proud of, that’s something I’ll very happily defend, how we approached that.” Coe added: “Everything that you do in a sport is underpinned by trust. It’s the trust that athletes that are competing feel that they are competing in a free, fair and open environment. It’s the trust that spectators have going into your stadiums to believe that what they’re watching is legitimate, and that is really important.

It’s the trust of parents when they are helping their offspring make judgements about the types of sports they go to. They need to know that we are a sport that is very firm in this area. As part of his candidacy manifesto, Coe had promoted establishing an independent anti-doping body, with IAAF tests currently going through the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). I’m not really wanting to go into the minutiae of detail at the moment,” he said of his plans for the independent body. I have espoused the concept of an independent testing process. That isn’t in any way to question the technical or professional ability of our teams in Monaco. They are world-class at what they do, they are the best at what they do.

Coe, speaking 34 years to the day since he set the world 1500m record in Zurich, reiterated his passion for track and field in an impressive, fluent display as president-elect. Track and field is the number one sport and I’m absolutely delighted to be the president of the number one sport and I will do everything within my human capabilities to make sure our sport maintains the values, maintains the strong legacies and the very, very firm foundations that president Diack has left me with,” the 58-year-old said.

He added: “I joined an athletics club when I was 11. I had a 10-12 year apprenticeship before I got to an Olympic stadium, I had the joys of Olympic competition, the joys of being part of the team that created something very special in London a few years ago, but this for me is the pinnacle. It’s my sport, it’s my passion and it’s the thing that I’ve always wanted to do.”

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