IAAF chief promises better dope control measures

New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe promised here on Monday that drug testing will be faster and more independent in future with the world body doing everything to protect clean athletes.

Athletics was hit by doping controversies ahead of the world championships in August and Coe, who met sports officials from India and other South Asian nations here on Monday, asserted that he is determined to restore the IAAF’s credibility.

“We are going to introduce more independence in our testing systems. Technically it is a complicated area but we are looking to introduce faster systems since at the moment the time between testing and sanctions is pretty long,” Coe told reporters after the meeting.

“It’s not uniquely a track and field problem. Every sport in the world has global issues. We have them but we also resolve them. It is our responsibility to make sure that our systems are clear and concise and the protocols are uniform across the globe,” he added.

“We must encourage the clean athletes to believe that we are always going to be in their corner. The reason that you have testing systems is actually to protect the clean athletes. It’s not just simply to remove those who cheat.”

The Briton — a two-time Olympic 1500 metres champion — pointed out that the IAAF has put in a lot of effort in uncovering drug cheats in recent years and insisted that athletics’ image as a dope tainted sport is an incorrect perception.

Usain Bolt is the most tested athlete, male or female, in any sport on the planet. Reality and perception often get badly tangled,” he said. “We take this very very seriously and we need to make sure that the public believe what they watch in a stadium is legitimate.”

Coe, who informed that the IAAF has tested 19,000 athletes since 2003-04 — more than any other sport — said that the world body was attempting to introduce blood passports and other anti-doping measures, but halting drug cheats was not possible without the support of member nations.

“One of our responsibilities is to protect clean athletes. Even when I made eight world records, there was the assumption that it’s not due to my ability,” he said.

Coe also said that the IAAF will soon establish a values commission to educate young athletes of the dangers of doping.

The 59-year-old heaped praise on Jamican sprint superstar Bolt, but was quick to add that the six-time Olympic champion’s retirement will not be a body blow for athletics.

“Not since Muhammad Ali do I think any competitor in any sport has captured the imagination in the way Usain Bolt has. We’ve been very fortunate. But our sport will not come to an end when Usain Bolt retires.

“I am a boxing fan and I remember the kind of conversation boxing was having in the 1960s and 70s — what when Muhammad Ali retires. Well, Floyd Mayweather comes along, Marvin Hagler comes along, Tommy Hearns comes along, Sugar Ray Leonard comes along,” the IAAF chief said.

“Every record that Usain Bolt set as a youngster in school has now been broken by Jamaican athletes which tells you there is in the pipeline a great deal of talent coming through the Jamaican track and field system.”

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