IAAF Party falls flat as doping dominates agenda

Wed Nov 25, 2015 12:49pm EST
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By Mitch Phillips

MONACO (Reuters) - There was an uneasy, faintly embarrassed atmosphere around the Fairmont Hotel on Monte Carlo's seafront on Wednesday, in stark contrast to previous years when the suits and the spikes of world athletics have come together to celebrate their sport.

On Thursday the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will meet to go through the latest developments in the doping and corruption scandals that have ripped the heart out of track and field.

It is likely to be a long meeting.

In previous years the November Council has been the precursor to the IAAF Gala, when the sportsman and sportswoman of the year are honored in a glossy, hugely expensive and self-congratulatory ceremony.

This year, the council members and officials will pack their bags on Friday and return home, the gala having been canceled in the wake of the worst period the sport has ever experienced. As new president Sebastian Coe rightly perceived, this was not a time to be seen celebrating.

There is precious little appetite for a party.

Though some council members were in an upbeat mood as part of a Sport for Peace conference at the same venue, when asked about Thursday's meeting, few were prepared to talk.

"It's not the time. We're not doing media," one told Reuters, even insisting on anonymity for that comment.   Continued...

A woman walks past the IAAF (The International Association of Athletics Federations) headquarters in Monaco November 4, 2015.   REUTERS/Eric Gaillard