Coe denies Russian doping was covered up

Wed Jan 13, 2016 1:25pm EST
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By Gene Cherry

(Reuters) - IAAF president Sebastian Coe says there has been no cover up of Russian doping cases despite the latest leaked documents appearing to show that officials of athletics' governing body were discussing how to suppress news of positive tests.

"There is no cover up here," Coe, who was a vice president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for seven years before becoming president in August, told CNN in an interview on Wednesday.

The athletics chief, in a separate interview with Sky News, also denied knowledge of IAAF officials discussing Russian doping problems as early as 2009 and of internal IAAF notes obtained by the Associated Press proposing some Russian dopers be sanctioned while other, less well-known athletes be allowed to disappear from the sport unpunished.

The documents showed that Pierre Weiss, then the IAAF general secretary, indicated in exchanges with former Russian athletics president Valentin Balakhnichev, who has been banned from the sport for life, serious concerns over doping problems in Russia.

"I wasn’t across any letters or internal communications that were emanating, but the overall principle has to be if there were abnormal readings were they followed up? They were. Were sanctions followed up? Yes, they were," Coe told Sky News.

He was speaking a day before the IAAF is expected to be heavily criticized in part two of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) independent commission report into the issue.

"I don’t think it was a huge surprise that we were concerned about Russia," said Coe, sporting a new bearded look. "The escalating number of positive tests that the IAAF Council commented on during my time was clearly a concern.

"But the issue is simple: Were all abnormal readings followed up? The answer is yes. Were sanctions imposed and made public? Yes, was there a cover-up? No.   Continued...

Sebastian Coe, IAAF's President, attends the IAAF press conference in Monaco, November 26, 2015. REUTERS/Jean-Pierre Amet