Lord Coe has no regrets about taking IAAF role

Lord Coe has denied he was the right-hand man to the discredited IAAF president LamineDiack. Picture: Getty
Lord Coe has denied he was the right-hand man to the discredited IAAF president LamineDiack. Picture: Getty
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IAAF president Lord Coe has vowed to “ride out the storm” at athletics’ beleaguered world governing body.

The organisation is set to be hit with further blows to its credibility when Dick Pound presents the second part of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s report on doping.

The first part revealed state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics and resulted in the country being suspended by the IAAF.

The second part of the report – held back because of a police investigation – focuses on the conduct of IAAF officials and will be presented in Munich a week on Thursday. Pound has promised it has a “wow factor”.

Coe has endured a baptism of fire since being elected IAAF president last August, but, in an interview with Alastair Campbell for GQ magazine conducted 10 days after the publication of the first part of the report, he said he had no regrets about taking on the role.

“Now more than ever there is the need and the appetite to make the right changes, and every day I get calls and messages from people in the sport saying, ‘Keep going, make the changes,’ so I just need to ride out the storm,” Coe said.

The IAAF has faced corruption allegations over the Russian doping scandal, with Coe’s predecessor as president Lamine Diack the subject of a police investigation over claims he took money to cover up 
positive drugs tests by Russian athletes.

Coe’s right-hand man at the IAAF, Nick Davies, has stepped aside from his role as the director of the president’s office while he is investigated by the IAAF’s ethics commission.

Davies faces allegations of unethical behaviour after the French newspaper Le Monde obtained a copy of an email sent by him in which he appears to discuss delaying the identification of Russian 
drug cheats in the run-up to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. He denies any wrongdoing.

Coe, who has also faced fierce criticism for taking so long to give up his ambassadorial role with Nike, said he was committed to transforming the IAAF and would subject everything he did to “proper scrutiny”.

Pointed out that he had served as an IAAF vice-president under Diack, Coe said: “Just be clear about my role, I was not his deputy. There were two senior vice-presidents and I was one of five vice-presidents and for most of the time I was virtually full-time working on the London Games (Coe was the London 2012 chairman).

“I am not making excuses, but giving you context. Even after the Games, I was the guy switching the lights off. Now did we have the right corporate governance for the IAAF? Clearly not. Was there too much power in the hands of one person? Yes. And that is why I am making changes. Every waking hour is going to create a system that commands respect, and that will include proper scrutiny of everything I do.”

Asked if he was not “too much the athletics-establishment man” to sort out the problem, he said: “Judge me on what I do over the next year or two. If you think you see me go soft or go native, then come and put the questions to me again. But I love the sport, I don’t like what has happened to it, and I am determined to get the wheels back on the bike.”