ZURICH: Sebastian Coe admits that athletics’ world governing body was “crumbling” when he took over four years ago, but insists progress has been made on Russian doping and levelling the female playing field by forcing athletes such as Caster Semenya to regulate their testosterone levels.
“We’ve covered a lot of ground, there’s no question about that,” IAAF President Coe told AFP in an interview in Zurich, host of the opening Diamond League final.
“Some of it because I wanted to make changes... and some of it, I openly admit, was forced upon us.
“We’ve made a mountain of changes such as a proper constitution to meet modern demands. The centrepiece of that was the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), really the first of its kind in international sport, and that’s working very well.”
Coe, who won 1500m Olympic golds for Britain in 1980 and 1984, beat legendary former Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergey Bubka to take over as head of the International Association of Athletics Federations from the now-disgraced Senegalese Lamine Diack in 2015.
It was far from plain sailing for Coe after Diack’s 16-year reign ended in chaos amid accusations he and his son obstructed sanctions against Russia for doping in return for payments.
The IAAF suspended Russia in November 2015 after the allegations of state involvement in doping emerged and Russian track and field athletes were banned from competing under their own flag at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“On Russia, we made a judgement early on that this was an issue that could not be ignored. It was not simply because of its high-profile nature, but it also summed up some of the other challenges we had around the way we needed to revisit our whole anti-doping approach.
“The creation of the taskforce (on Russian doping) has served us well, it’s removed subjectivity,” he said.