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Coe faces difficult questions at IAAF meeting

25 November 2015, 20:39

Monaco - An anti-doping road-map that Russia will have to follow to be allowed back into international competition will be discussed Thursday by track and field's governing body.

The meeting in Monaco of the IAAF council could also throw up difficult questions for its president, Sebastian Coe.

The former two-time Olympic 1,500-meter champion is battling suggestions that his commercial ties to Nike are inappropriate and a possible conflict of interest now that he heads the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Also read: Russia 'ready to rebuild' anti-doping system after WADA suspension

Coe's first months as IAAF president, he was elected in August, could hardly have been more challenging. Revelations of systematic doping in Russia and alleged corruption at the very top of the IAAF have undermined trust in the sport and its leadership and forced Coe onto the defensive.

Russian track and field athletes could miss next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro if their athletics federation, ARAF, fails to demonstrate to the IAAF that it has permanently dismantled the allegedly state-supported program of widespread doping and cover-ups exposed by a commission appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

In response to those damning findings, the IAAF's ruling council voted 22-1 on Nov. 13 to provisionally suspend Russia, a decision which bars its track athletes from international competition, including the Olympics.

Coe said "the whole system has failed" and that "this has been a shameful wake-up call."

To be reinstated, ARAF must satisfy an IAAF inspection team and jump through numerous hoops. The IAAF has already said those steps will include banning athletes, doctors, coaches and others who doped or were complicit in it. Russia is also expected to implement other reforms, including steps to encourage whistleblowing, to eradicate the "deeply rooted culture of cheating" that WADA's commission identified.

The council meeting in Monaco is designed to flesh out the cleanup process by discussing more precisely the proposed boxes Russia will have to tick to be welcomed back. Exactly how long that might take isn't clear. Coe has said "there cannot be any timeframe for ARAF's return until we are assured all criteria have been fully met and will continue to be met forever."

Coe could also face renewed questions about his ambassadorial role for Nike and whether he lobbied for the Oregon city of Eugene to host the 2021 world championships. Nike's headquarters are outside Portland, about 100 miles (160 kms) from Eugene.

Coe insisted he "did not lobby anyone" on Eugene's behalf. But the Swedish city of Gothenburg, which was also vying for the 2021 worlds, wants the whole process to be investigated. Eugene was awarded the championships, the first in the U.S., without an open bidding process.

The BBC also reported Tuesday that British taxpayers funded part of Coe's IAAF presidential campaign.

UK Sport, a government-funded public body which also receives cash from Britain's National Lottery, contributed 63,000 pounds ($95,000) to British public relations company Vero Communications for its work on Coe's campaign.

Coe said on the IAAF website that the other "two thirds of the campaign was privately funded."

Coe beat Ukrainian pole vault great Sergei Bubka in the presidential election in Beijing, succeeding Lamine Diack.

UK Sport defended paying Vero Communications for Coe's campaign, saying it helps to ensure Britain "is in an influential position to drive good governance, leadership and development in international sport."

- AP


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