BERLIN (Reuters) - Doping cases in athletics need to be dealt with quicker and cheats punished with tougher sanctions, IAAF vice president Sergey Bubka said on Thursday with his sport confronted by allegations of hundreds of suspicious past tests.
"We need to see how to speed up the process between cases and decisions," he told Reuters in an interview. "That needs to be quicker.
"We need to be looking at what can be improved, tougher sanctions, legal challenges," added Bubka, who has long favored tougher sanctions for doping offenders past the current two years with his sport's credibility hit with every positive test.
"We must look at it from the legal side and see what can be tougher."
Former Olympic champion pole vaulter Bubka is running for world athletics governing body's presidency and goes up against Sebastian Coe in next week's vote in Beijing ahead of the world championships.
Bubka said he had talked with the World Anti-doping Agency about the need to boost cooperation, improve the overall system of testing and processing cases and the need for more funds.
"We will continue to fight, to cooperate with WADA and the International Olympic Committee....to speak openly about the future," said the Ukrainian.
"If we need to make rules and regulations more tough then no question from my side."
German broadcaster ARD and Britain's Sunday Times newspaper obtained a leaked database, belonging to IAAF, containing more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.
Their investigations published earlier this month resulted in claims that the data showed more than 800 athletes had suspicious results which were not followed up by the IAAF.
The governing body strenuously rejected claims they had turned a blind eye to doping, describing the allegations as "sensationalist and confusing".
On Tuesday the IAAF banned 28 athletes after they retested samples from the 2005 and 2007 world championships with new technology that can uncover previously undetectable substances and found 32 adverse doping cases.
Asked what he would tell athletics fans who have called on past offenders, such as 100 meters gold medal contender Justin Gatlin, to be banned from the world championships, Bubka said the IAAF had to follow the rules just like any other federation.
"We must follow the same rules. We will be very open to protect the athletes and make athletics attractive, a case people should believe.
"We will continue to educate from grassroots and we will not accept cheaters. But we most follow rules."
A more immediate target for the former pole vault world record holder is to beat Coe on Aug. 19 for the top job with Bubka brushing off several media reports naming the Briton as a frontrunner in the race for the presidency of the Olympics' most popular sport.
"No one can influence the vote of national federations, no one. The campaign is going very well and I am very confident from the feedback for support from national federations that I am getting," he said.
"What I get as feedback regarding my ideas, vision and program is that I have very strong support. What is important is who finishes the line first."
editing by Justin Palmer