International Athletics

Coe ushers in brave new world for IAAF

2016-12-04 09:01
Sebastian Coe (Getty Images)

Monaco - Sebastian Coe has taken the first successful step to dragging an IAAF riddled with corruption into a brave new world of transparency.

Since taking charge of the International Association of Athletics Federations in August 2015, Coe has often found himself in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

He inherited a world governing body sick to its core, his predecessor Lamine Diack -- under whom he served as vice-president for eight years -- just one of several senior former IAAF officials under police investigation for corruption involving bribes to keep quiet about positive Russian doping tests.

But Coe has not shirked from the challenge, drafting a revolutionary set of reforms that were adopted at Saturday's Special Congress on Saturday.

While some federation members bristled at the open nature of the vote, with results published for all to see, Coe was defiant.

"We've moved into the world of transparency," was the Briton's blunt reply when quizzed on why he had not opted to make the ballot a secret one.

"Transparency sits at the heart of everything we've been talking about it. That is a key word and everyone knows what it means."

The vote saw 182 member federations plump for the reforms, with 10 against and five invalid votes. Sixteen federations were not present.

Coe's reforms, with a nod to Diack's abuse of the presidency, include stripping himself of some powers, with the president and IAAF Council not allowed to serve more than 12 years and with more checks put in place.

The reforms also push for gender balance, handing athletes a greater voice and crucially establishing an independent integrity unit that would manage all anti-doping matters and be responsible for greater intelligence gathering.

All in all, it is a massive step forward for the crisis-riddled body behind the Olympics' number one sport.

"This is a good and historic day for our sport," Coe admitted. "I'm incredibly proud of the decision that was taken.

"We now have structures, frameworks and foundations that will create a safety net. That safety net also has to be responsive to cultural shifts and cultural changes.

"There is now a whole heap more work to do to make sure that we drive on to a much better future."

Coe hailed the "painstaking" work of his team that has spent six months crisscrossing the globe to debate the package with member federations and establish what he dubbed the "exemplar of best practice".

"I hope the public perception of our sport actually is helped by what they've seen, but that wasn't primarily why we did it," the former British parliamentarian and two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist said.

"We did it because we were in need of change, we did it because we had to do it in haste and I make no apology for that.

"There's a lot in there that will make us safer and make us safer a lot more quickly than it would have done had we not put those things in place."

Coe conceded that his ambitious push for gender equity had had to be scaled back.

"It's an important ambition to encourage more women into our sport at every level," he said.

But Coe admitted that, rather than "lose the debate", it had been better to tinker with the target percentage intake of females, saying some countries had found the initial timetable "onerous".

The target now was to reach a 40 percent equity in 2023 instead of 50 percent, Coe said.

As for the Integrity Unit, IAAF chief executive officer Olivier Gers said there was an operational date of April 3 in place, with a budget double initial estimates.

"There will be eight million dollars per year dedicated to fighting doping and ensuring that we do everything we can to create a level playing field for the athletes and ensure they can compete cleanly against each other," Gers said.

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