Beijing - Britain's Sebastian Coe beat Sergey Bubka in a tight vote to
become the new president of the IAAF on Wednesday at a time when the world
athletics body is battling a series of doping controversies.
Coe won 115 votes from the 207 voting member federations that make up the
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), with Ukraine's Bubka
Coe takes over from Lamine Diack, the 82-year-old Senegalese who is stepping
down after 16 years in charge at the IAAF Congress in Beijing.
"In the best traditions of everything in what we believe in our sport,
it was fought according to sound judgement throughout," Coe said in the
"For most of us in this room, we would conclude that the birth of our
children is a big moment in our lives, probably the biggest, but I have to say
that being given the opportunity to work with all of you and shape the future
of our sport is probably the second biggest and (most) momentous occasion of my
Coe added that he would now be reacquainting himself with his wife after
months of international lobbying. "I will be meeting her outside the main
congress with a photo of me just to remind her of what I look like."
Diack said that track and field would prosper with Coe, who was a two-time
Olympic 1500m gold medallist for Britain in 1980 and 1984 and also set eight
outdoor and three indoor world records in middle-distance track events.
"Our sport is in safe hands," Diack said. "The white-haired
generation has done what it can, now it's over to the black-haired
Coe's first job as IAAF president will be to defend athletics from stinging
allegations of widespread doping which threaten to cast a dark cloud over the
world championships which kick off on Saturday in Beijing.
The credibility of both athletics and the IAAF has come under repeated
attack in recent weeks, after British and German media said a leaked database
of 12 000 tests had revealed "extraordinary" levels of doping.
The IAAF slammed the allegations as "sensationalist and confusing"
and also dismissed a later Sunday Times report that it blocked the publication
of a document showing extensive doping among top athletes.
Last week, the world body provisionally suspended 28 athletes for suspected
doping offences at the 2005 and 2007 world championships, although most have
now retired and none had been due to compete at the world championships in
Beijing, starting Saturday.
But doping issues will feature prominently at the Bird's Nest stadium when
US sprinter Justin Gatlin, twice banned for drugs but now in the form of his
life aged 33, takes on Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt in the 100m on the opening