Athletics Athletics

Coe reaffirms uncompromising stance on doping

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe addresses a press conference in New Delhi on October 5, 2015 (AFP Photo/Sajjad Hussain)

PARIS, November 4 – International athletics leader Sebastian Coe reaffirmed an “uncompromising” stance on doping during a visit to Russia ahead of the release of a report on allegations of widespread abuse in the country, the IAAF said.

Coe met Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and Olympic leaders on his first visit to the country as International Association of Athletics Federations president and said he had seen “a real appetite for change.”

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has spent this year investigating allegations by the Sunday Times newspaper and German ARD broadcaster of widespread doping by Russian and Kenyan athletes.

This was extended in August to look into allegations that the IAAF had failed to follow up suspicious tests by hundreds of athletes including world champions and Olympic medal winners.

WADA appointed its former leader Dick Pound to head an independent commission of inquiry.

“We expect the independent commission to deliver the findings of its report this month,” WADA spokesman Ben Nichols told AFP.

The WADA board is to hold a meeting in mid-November.

About 50 Russian athletes are currently banned by the IAAF, the highest number of any country, and Coe addressed Russian coaches during his two-day visit, an IAAF statement said.

“I expressed my uncompromising position on the issue of doping in athletics and the importance for the sport to build trust and defend clean athletes at all times,” Coe said.

But he added that it was a “very productive visit”.

“I was able to meet and interact directly with Russian athletes, coaches and officials, and I appreciated their openness, passion for our sport and noted a real appetite for change. I also felt a very strong support for our plans to modernise athletics,” said Coe, who was elected in August just after the allegations shook international athletics.

Russian sports leaders have denied they have higher levels of doping than in other countries.