Coe in the spotlight as world athletics ponders Russia ban

Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:28am EST
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By Ian Chadband

LONDON (Reuters) - Sebastian Coe chairs a meeting of world athletics on Friday to discuss suspending Russia over allegations of state sponsored doping of its athletes, a crisis that has put his leadership under the spotlight barely three months into the job.

An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Monday Russia's athletics federation (ARAF) should be suspended after uncovering evidence of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Coe, having expressed his shock at the report's findings, will preside over a meeting in Monaco of the ruling council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at which possible sanctions, including suspension, will be decided.

Coe told Reuters on Sunday that his instinct was against banning Russia, but a day later he said the scale of the doping regime exposed by the report meant that the IAAF Council should consider the recommendation for such a temporary ban.

"We will investigate and if we find failures in our governance we will act," Coe, who took over as president in August following the retirement of IAAF president Lamine Diack, said after publication of the WADA report on Monday.

His comments represent a major shift in tone. Just a fortnight before being voted in as IAAF president Coe had described allegations of a widespread cover-up of doping in athletics, as a "declaration of war" on his sport.

Explaining that comment, he told reporters this week: "I've clarified this previously and I'll say again that the comment was made in frustration about the selective use of data to besmirch clean athletes, and I made that clear at the time.

"It was not a criticism of any journalism or any media. It was simply a reaction to the selective use of data to call into question the reputation of clean athletes."   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