Fight against doping not the only challenge facing Coe

Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:52am EDT
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By Gene Cherry

BEIJING (Reuters) - Although the battle against doping has dominated the headlines in recent weeks, the newly elected IAAF president Sebastian Coe has outlined a raft of other challenges he says the sport of athletics needs to confront.

These include attracting new sponsors, empowering federations with the resources to develop high quality athletes and tweaking a far-flung schedule that he said can be confusing, even to people within the sport.

"We always have to remember that our product is athletics but our business is entertainment," the two-time Olympic gold medalist said in his first press conference after Wednesday's election win.

A businessman, politician and sports administrator who heading up the organization of the 2012 London Olympics, the 58-year-old Coe is equally at home in the corporate world as he is mixing with athletes and officials at the track.

He said creating new fans of the sport would be paramount in a world where many youths are becoming captivated by football and electronic games.

"We have to make sure we engage with young people, that is the challenge," said Coe, who joined an athletics club when he was 11.

Coe said he was now better equipped than ever to understand the needs of the sport after flying more than 700,000 kilometers around the world to canvas support for his election bid among the sports federations.

"I was sitting talking to federation presidents who, out of their own disposable income, are paying for pots of paint to mark the track to maintain a primary school championship in one continent," he recalled   Continued...

Newly elected President of International Association of Athletics Federations Sebastian Coe speaks at a news conference, in Beijing, August 19, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Lee