Sebastian Coe - Chairman, British Olympic Association Share PDF Print E-mail
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SebastianCoe_FP

Sebastian Coe is a former track and field athlete who is currently the Chairman of the British Olympic Association and vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF).

He was also chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games.

He is now running to replace Lamine Diack and become the next president of the IAAF. 

By Christian Radnedge

What sort of response have you had so far to your campaign in the athletics world?

It’s been very positive, it’s actually been very positive and that’s why I felt it was important to be clear and concise and put my manifesto out there and ultimately it’s a debate.

The great thing about elections is it’s not just two or three people slugging it out to be president; actually the sport has an opportunity as you do in any election to have a discussion, a debate.

And the federations deserve that so that’s why I’m pleased to be able to travel as much as I am and to have the opportunity to sit down with quality to discuss my approach.

How confident are you of being successful in August?

I hope I am, I clearly wouldn’t be doing this on the basis of not wanting to be successful. But again, it’s an election you take nothing for granted. The election is a referendum on the future of the sport.

The federations are made up of thoughtful people who want to know what the programmes are.

That’s why I was very keen to get that article out on the table, it’s not about differentiation, people deserve to know what I think and what I feel.

And I feel in large part they’ve known for some years, I’ve been involved in the Olympic programme, I’ve been in track and field for – this is my fifth decade, in one guise or another.

Is there a trust issue in athletics because of the recent doping allegations?

It’s not just athletics, trust sits at the heart of every sport. Trust sits at the heart of the way we select venues for sport, Olympic bids, World Cup bids, World Championship bids – trust sits at the heart of the knowledge that spectators are watching sport carried out to the highest level of integrity.

And fair play is not just a concept rooted on the field of play, it’s a concept rooted in the boardroom, on the balance sheet. It’s very important that the highest standards are set throughout the sport.

The tone and style is set by the leadership of the sport and that is very important.

So yes, trust underpins everything because if you don’t have trust you won’t have a viable programme, you won’t have parents who think that the sport is a sport for their children and consumer sovereignty is actually a very important concept.

Parents are in a large part responsible for the sports that their children are attracted to.

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Will you continue to push for harsher sanctions?

I’ve been largely deconstructed on the subject over the years. I’m really carbon-dating myself here.

I was the first athlete to speak to a Olympic congress in 1981 I was given four minutes to synthesise the views of 38 athletes that were asked to go to the Olympic congress. For two minutes and 25 seconds I talked about the dangers of performance enhancing drugs.

I’ve authored the government report into drug abuse in sport in 1987, it was the precursor for independent random out-of-competition testing that became the template.

I pushed in 2007 along with my colleagues in Osaka to go back to the ability to ban for four years and not two years.

Two years was never a good sanction because two years is barely a year and two or three months by the end of it – it’s not a massive disruption to a career whereas four years by its very nature takes out a Games, possibly even two.

I do actually believe for all the experience I have in this area we have an independent system. We need to close the gap between positive test and sanction; I think that’s caused us damage in the past. I think it is really important we remove the burden from individual federations.

They get much of the legal challenge that is now inherent in all these [cases] and I think that you can close down potential loopholes very quickly by having an independent system.

There are resource implications here but we do have to find that.

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