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June 06, 2020

Loving the rivalry Greaux wants revenge on Richards at 2021 Champs

Kyle Greaux and Jereem “The Dream” Richards are Trinidad and Tobago teammates. The 200-metre sprinters…
June 06, 2020

What is the colour of power?

I hadn’t intended to write a word; my feelings were raw and I felt that…
June 06, 2020

Power over pain Baptiste, Greaux push past the lactic

The pain associated with lactic acid build up in the muscles is all too familiar…
June 03, 2020

Do not flinch in the face of adversity

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement that phase three of the reopening of the T&T…
June 03, 2020

An open letter to sport #BlackLivesMatter

Citizens across the world have mobilised to stand up for equal rights, for freedom, fairness,…
June 02, 2020

Rolf Bartolo - A man of integrity

Tributes keep pouring in for Rolf Bartolo from different quarters in Trinidad and Tobago. On…
June 01, 2020

Lewis: Sport can be key in covid19 recovery

BRIAN LEWIS, president of the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC), says that sports can play a…

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Lord Coe, the IAAF vice-president who hopes to run athletics from next year, has admitted the crisis facing the sport is as serious as those sparked by the Ben Johnson and Balco doping scandals.

The former London 2012 chairman said allegations of systematic doping in Russian athletics, claims of a cover-up that involves senior IAAF figures and questions over the role of the son of the president, Lamine Diack, had added up to “a ghastly week for athletics”.

“We have to bring this tawdry, sorry episode to a close as quickly as we possibly can,” said Coe, who is likely to face a challenge from the Ukrainian IAAF vice-president, Sergey Bubka, for the presidency.

Coe said in his 40 years in athletics as a competitor and administrator the allegations facing the sport ranked alongside the shame of the 1988 Olympic 100m gold medallist Johnson and the Balco scandal that led to Marion Jones being banned.

“This is up there. Nobody is remotely suggesting these allegations are not serious,” he said. “I’m not afraid of embarrassment here. I would rather deal with this now than get to the point where nobody cares about the sport,” added Coe, pointing out he had helped to establish the recently convened independent ethics commission.

The president of the Russian athletics federation, Valentin Balakhnichev, has stepped down from his role as IAAF treasurer while the claims of institutionalised cheating are investigated, despite denouncing them as a “pack of lies”. Papa Massata Diack, an IAAF marketing adviser and the son of the organisation’s 81-year-old president, also stepped down pending the outcome of an investigation.

The Guardian has seen emails that suggest Papa Massata Diack asked for a $5m payment from Qatar during the bidding race for the 2017 world athletics championships in October 2011. The IAAF has said he denies “receiving any such payment nor ever acting in such a manner on behalf of the IAAF”.

Coe insisted he did not know anything about a list of 150 athletes with suspicious blood values referred to by the German broadcaster ARD. Produced between 2006 and 2008 by an IAAF official, it contains the names of three British athletes including one household name considered to have suspicious blood values.

“I don’t know about the existence of a list. It only got mentioned on German television as the third part of a trilogy,” said Coe, who has been an IAAF vice-president since 2007 and is chair of the British Olympic Association. “I don’t know, the IAAF does not know, what this list contains and whether it is a list that has any veracity at all.”

He said ARD should show the list to the IAAF ethics commission or Wada and said officials were prepared to travel to Berlin to see the filmmaker. Hajo Seppelt, the German documentary maker who uncovered the alleged doping and corruption in Russian athletics, said he had spent several days trying unsuccessfully to meet Coe in Monaco last week in order to discuss the issue.

The IAAF’s ethics commission, chaired by the British QC Michael Beloff, was first alerted to some of the allegations concerning Russian athletes and officials in March and is expected to complete its investigation in a matter of months.

Coe’s likely rival for the presidency, Bubka, has yet to comment in detail on the doping claims or the other allegations threatening to tear the IAAF apart. The Briton said it was dangerous to speculate on the basis of a single list.

“These could be musings, they could be suspicions. I was in athletics for 20 odd years, I was subject to that kind of speculation,” said Coe. “We’ve got to be very careful. A one-off reading does not prove anything at all.”

Coe has pointed to his lifelong battle against doping that included arguing for a life ban, his part in doubling the standard punishment from two years to four and his call for an independent anti-doping unit within the IAAF as evidence of his commitment to clean sport.

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