Coe vows to lead IAAF out of dark days


IAAF president Sebastian Coe has distanced himself from the "dark days" that he feels are responsible for the doping scandal that is clouding the sport at the start of an Olympic year.

The sport has been rocked by doping revelations since December 2015 following a documentary screen by German broadcaster ARD that made accusations of Russian athletes taking part in state-sponsored steroid use.

A subsequent independent commission established by WADA brought about the suspension of the All-Russia Athletics Federation, while also alleging "corruption and bribery" at the highest level of the sport.

Former president Lamine Diack was also placed under investigation by French police for his involvement in the scandal, while his son Papa Massata Diack was handed a life ban by the IAAF on January 8.

Coe - who was elected as Diack's successor in August - believes good can come from these bad times, and says the changes he is implementing will help rebuild confidence in athletics.

"I can't continually focus only on the past," he told CNN. "The crisis was actually two or three years ago when what we're having to deal with was taking place, our responsibility is now to make those changes and take the sport into safe, safe territory.

"My focus every day, every hour of that day, is to shape the future of our sport.

"We know that we have suffered a disproportionate amount of damage from a relatively small number of countries.

"If we are not satisfied at the IAAF that the countries that we are looking very closely at are not prepared to make the changes we want then sanctions will follow."

And Coe warned Russia that their suspension would not be lifted for Rio 2016 unless they co-operate fully with reforms set out by the IAAF.

He added: "I have not put a timeframe on that [Russia's return]. 

"It will be when we are satisfied that the changes have been made are both verifiable and sustainable. This cannot be just a one off change, we have to be sure that these changes are culturally embedded in the sport going forward.

"The timeframe for Russian athletes, clean athletes, [coming] back into the system is very clearly identified in the work that Rune Anderson, the chair of the independent commission, has just been involved in with the task force in Moscow."