Will Lord Sebastian Coe save the sport of Athletics?

July 30, 2015 0

Note, the article has been edited to abide by the request of a law firm to remove the article as it named and therefore defamed a person involved with awarding IAAF World Championship events. The name and position of the person has been removed. See an edited version of the letter received today at the bottom of article.
© Copyright – 2015 – Athletics Illustrated

Will Lord Sebastian Coe affect the necessary changes to make the IAAF a trusted governing body of sport again? Was it ever fully trusted? Currently headed down the same path as FIFA, the IAAF has been embroiled lately in scandal including apparent bribe-taking in awarding Doha, Qatar the 2019 IAAF World Track and Field Championships.

It appears that *a person associated with the IAAF requested a payment of $4.5 million by bank transfer and over $400,000 of it to be in cash, which was to be collected in Doha if Doha failed to win the right to host the 2017 world championships. This, according to leaked emails seen by the Guardian newspaper, but they were awarded the following event, the 2019 world championships. Which begs the question; did this person receive the $400,000-plus payment for Doha losing 2017, and then win the $4.5 million for Doha being awarded the meet?

In addition to the apparent and very widely reported bribe-taking there are accusations of systematic doping levied against Russia. Canadian Lawyer and vice-president and founder of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Dick Pound is leading an investigation. When contacted, he said, “the team will not be providing interim reports while the investigation is under way.”

Like the IAAF, it appears that FIFA may have accepted bribes, although nothing has been proven; however, a key proverbial red flag has been raised in the sudden increase in global competitions going to Doha, even when they appear as inappropriate hosts. For example the World Cup of Soccer is traditionally played in the summer. Doha is so inhospitable due to the heat that organisers and FIFA are seeking a never-been-done-before winter version. The domino effect from disrupting world-wide soccer is immeasurable. What is the value to whom for this to happen?

Around the same time in December, the IAAF released a statement in response to a German Television broadcast by WDR/ARD Television about the accused’s apparent bribe issues. In that statement they wrote that Doha did not win the right to host the 2017 meet. They failed to mention that they won the right to host the very next one taking place in 2019. They did recommend that the IAAF Ethics Commission is the best route to pursue these allegations. A self-appointed or self-managed ethics commission is self-policing. Amid the trust issues towards international governing bodies of sport – the best route to go is through independent investigations, such as the Russian doping case headed by Dick Pound.

Inside The Games wrote:

Sebastian Coe is heading towards becoming the next President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) following an extraordinary day when 12 countries in Europe pledged to support the double Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist.

The Briton was promised backing of the Athletic Association Small States of Europe (AASSE), a group of countries who between them have nine votes, Estonia, Ireland and Italy.

Jonas Egilsson, President of the AASSE, revealed that the group which comprises Andorra, Cyprus, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro and San Marino had decided to back Britain’s double Olympic gold medallist following his promise to give an Olympic Athletics Dividend of at least $100,000 (£64,000/€91,000) over four years to all 214 members of the IAAF.

Is Lord Coe the savior?

Is he knight in shining armour come to save the IAAF as well as the sport of athletics as a whole? He faces issues that need focus, for example the IAAF World Cross Country Championships are now really just championships between primarily Ethiopia and Kenya. The event no longer attracts a world-wide audience, it is on its last legs – at least as a major global championships. World cross needs to be fixed immediately.

If cross-country is to be saved, it desperately needs to be included in the Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee should bring out the red carpet for cross country, as the event will bring in a television and online audience of population that otherwise have no interest in winter sports. Cross country is a winter sport. This will benefit the games in terms of advertising and sponsorship dollars as well.

Drug testing in nations that do not have out-of-competition and on-site testing facilities need to be managed with much closer scrutiny, for example Ethiopia, Jamaica and Kenya must have on-site facilities to be able to compete with countries that have facilities. Otherwise, there is no “even playing field”. And if they cannot, investigative reporters like Hajo Seppelt from ARD/WDR Television will continue to be the police on their behalf.

Lifetime bans

Lifetime bans need to be brought in immediately for second-time positive tests where anabolic steroids or EPO are found in both the A and B samples or some level of Athlete Biological Passport contravention at the same level. Although there is a legal course of action that takes time for the IAAF to make changes of this magnitude, the ball must start rolling on those procedures at the earliest possible opportunity.

Performance records of athletes who receive lifetime bans for positive test should have their entire history in the sport erased from the record books. No viable deterrent currently exists as made obvious by the apparent continued doping practices by athletes running out-of-this-world performances or improving up to and beyond their previous ability to when they were doped.

Their also needs to be a code of conduct written for sponsors and advertiser relationship with National Sport Organisations, events and athletes as well as their agents and coaches. At no time, should a sponsor or advertiser have the ability to decide whether a team or an athlete can compete at any level. Controlling the sports should be completely beyond their jurisdiction.

Just as a clean up of the sport needs to take place at the ground level where the athletes, coaches and agents operate, so should it take place at the organisational level, in the proverbial ivory tower.

Is Lord Sebastian Coe the answer to saving the historic, grand-old original sport of athletics? Let’s hope so, as he appears to be the next President of the IAAF and his sport needs saving.

Below is a copy of a letter received today by Athletics Illustrated demanding that this article be removed as the reputation of the person previously named above, will be damaged.

*August 4, 2015
Christopher Kelsall

Re: Urgent – Article published on July 30th, 2015 on the Athletics Illustrated website

Dear Sir:

On July 30th, 2015, an article entitled “WILL LORD SEBASTIAN COE
SAVE THE WORLD OF ATHLETICS?” was published on the Athletics Illustrated website.
This article, which has been accessible on the website since then, contains defamatory
allegations made against our client, [name removed].

We hereby inform you that such allegations hurt our client’s reputation and that a person who makes or repeat these allegations is personally liable for defamation. We would therefore ask you to withdraw this publication without delay.

In case Athletics Illustrated fails to withdraw this article within 2 days after
receipt of this formal notice, our client reserves the right to bring legal proceedings.


Jean-Yves Garaud

Sent from the international law firm, “Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLB”.



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