BEIJING, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Sebastian Coe wants the public to “fall in love again with athletics” and one of his priorities as the new IAAF president will be to restore the sport’s trust and integrity, he said on Monday.
The IAAF has been in crisis since data from thousands of blood samples was leaked to two media organizations earlier this month.
“All the things I want really to get stuck in to, in the first hundred days actually, all that can only be predicated on two immutable principles of trust and integrity,” Coe told the BBC while attending the world championships.
The double Olympic 1,500 meters champion added he must banish the notion all leading athletes are using performance-enhancing drugs.
“We’ve got to kill the perception that somehow the IAAF has been sitting on its hands, or is in some way complicit, in not doing enough,” said Coe of the sport’s governing body.
”I’ve been on the [IAAF] Council since 2003...we have driven high-profile cheats out of the sport and we’ve paid a high price for doing that.
“In 2005 we were a sport that still had the prescience to start collecting samples knowing one day the technology would emerge and we could go back 10 years, as we have done recently, and pull people out from world championship-winning positions.”
Coe denied he did not welcome media coverage alleging widespread drug use and official cover-ups.
“We shouldn’t ever hide away from the media that wants to look and judge us,” said the Briton who took over as president earlier this month.
“For me the issue was really about the very selective use of information that actually shouldn’t have been in the public domain, it was very private information, and information you could not extrapolate from in terms of one simple reading.”
“Our overall objective is to get the cheats out of our sport but my objective over the coming years is for the clean athletes to know there is absolutely no question I am in their corner.”
Coe said he wanted sanctions for drug cheats to be proportionate.
”That is why we pushed to go back from the two years [mandatory ban] to four years because two years is a mere blip in a career,“ he explained. ”Four years is a very serious time out of sport.
“I don’t want to see people coming back quickly from a ban where it is viewed as a slap on the wrist.”
Writing by Steven Downes; Editing by Tony Jimenez