Sebastian Coe dodges walker drug claims

Reticent: Sebastian Coe declined to comment on Russian doping scandals. Photo: Brendan EspositoIAAF vice-president Sebastian Coe has refused to be drawn on Australian concerns about widespread doping in Russia which had denied Australians medals at world and Olympic games.

Russia is confronting two doping scandals – one the wide-spread doping among race walkers after five more walkers were recently banned for doping, including those who had beaten Jared Talent into first place and denied him a gold medal.

Australia has protested to the IAAF about the situation with Russian race walkers and has raised the matter at the Oceania Area Congress on the Gold Coast.

Athletics Australia president David Grace has queried whether the Russian city of Cheboksary remains the appropriate host of the next two World Race Walking Cups.

Coe would not comment on that approach. He said only that athletics was the most drug-tested sport in the world and, consequently, with more tests came more positive results.

Now Russia and the IAAF are facing a far bigger doping scandal with the son of IAAF president Lamine Diack forced to stand down from IAAF roles and the president of the Russian athletics federation also forced to step aside amid allegations that authorities helped Russian athletes avoid doping bans in return for cash.

Papa Massata Diack, an IAAF marketing consultant, and Valentin Balakhnichev, the president of the Russian athletics federation and the IAAF’s treasurer, both stood down in December as an investigation is undertaken into the claims.

Three documentaries broadcast on German television station ARD alleged150 athletes between 2006 and 2008 recorded suspicious blood samples but were not subsequently target-tested.

Further it was claimed that prominent Russian athletes had paid large amounts of money to avoid doping bans.

It has further been alleged that Papa Massata Diack, who holds the marketing rights for the IAAF for some countries, had tried to obtain a payment of $US5 million ($6.4 million) during Doha’s bid for the 2017 world championships.

“These are all allegations and they are being investigated,” Coe said.

“We have an ethics committee looking at it, an ethics committee which I was in large part instrumental in putting together, and given we are into that process it would be wrong of me to make comment.

“There is also a supplementary review by WADA.”

Coe has long advocated that there needs to be full independent testing of athletes under a wholly independent system.

Separately Coe acknowledged the two reports conducted into Athletics Australia after the Commonwealth Games athletics fiasco, which culminated in coach Eric Hollingsworth being sent home, but said AA was on the correct path.

“I know [AA president] David Grace very well and I think he has a coherent vision for where the sport can go and I am not always sure that has been as present as it should have been in the last decade,” Coe said in apparent reference to Grace’s predecessor as president, Rob Fildes.

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