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Can Seb Coe change things around at the IAAF?

sporting injuries

The athletics World Championships begin tomorrow in Beijing, but this week it has been reported that only one third of athletes will be blood tested.

On Wednesday, Sebastian Coe was newly appointed as President of the IAAF, and it has been widely publicised that his immediate duties will involve tackling the growing problem concerning illegal drug usage among competing athletes.

Newitts takes a look below at the effects of doping and illustrates why Seb Coe may have a big job on his hands.

The facts

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has this week said it is to abandon its policy of blood testing every athlete during the upcoming 2015 World Championships in Beijing, despite every athlete having a blood sample taken in the previous two championships in Daegu 2011 and Moscow 2013.

The reason for the change is due to IAAF insisting it has a more sophisticated system in place in order to target elite athletes. But, the decision is causing concern among both competitors and spectators.

Athletes such as British sprinter Richard Kilty said he expects almost three-quarters of the men who will line up for the 100m final in the Beijing championships will be former drugs cheats. Doping has become so common that three out of the four American athletes selected for the 100m - Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers - have all served doping bans, putting a shadow on some of the honest athletes such as Kilty who is hoping to "shine a bit of light" on the event.

Fresh claims reveal that up to one third of medals in endurance events at Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 have been won by athletes with suspicious blood values, whilst last week 28 athletes from 2005 and 2007 World Championships were banned after their samples were tested.

The WADA report

The IAAF has denied that it has tried to suppress the publication of a report which revealed that one third of athletes at the 2011 World Championships confessed to doping.

One third of the 1,800 athletes taking part in the World Championships in Beijing have admitted to breaking anti-doping rules in the past year according to a leaked report conducted by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) who were given access by the IAAF to carry out the project on athletes at the Daegu World Championships in 2011.

The lead author of the WADA report, Rolf Ulrich, has admitted that he has been barred from discussing the report in detail - findings were revealed two years ago, but the entire report has never been approved by the IAAF for publication. The IAAF said it has "serious reservations" as to the interpretation of the results made by the research group.

"The IAAF is said to have serious reservation as to the interpretation of the result made by the WADA report"

Sebastian Coe's role as IAAF president

On Wednesday, the IAAF's 213 member nations voted to elect Seb Coe as their new IAAF president, replacing 82-year old Senegalese Lamine Diack, who had been in charge for 16 years.

Mr Coe, a former Olympic 1500m champion and Chairman of the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics, has now pledged a fully independent, better-funded drug-testing body.

Seb Coe has the backing of double Olympic champion Mo Farah and Olympic 1500m silver medallist Steve Cram, to make a positive impact regarding the fall-out from a series of recent doping allegations.

The IAAF have fought back to say it is not going "soft on doping" but instead has switched its focus to target testing around 600-700 specific athletes as opposed to mass screening an expected 1,800 competitors.

The IAAF claims it now has more sophisticated testing methods for catching out cheats. In a statement it said: “The most important time to be testing many of the athletes is during the off-season when the heavy training loads are taking place.
"The testing in Beijing is important – but nowhere near as important as a truly non-notice out-of-competition (OOC) programme conducted during the preceding six months or longer.”
The IAAF will use the latest technology to catch more cheats using the blood booster EPO and human growth hormone (HGH) in Beijing. It added: “The IAAF is heavily utilising specialist analysis such as the IRMS (isotope-ratio mass spectrometry) test for EPO and HGH."

How have athletes and the general public reacted

Despite the IAAF's explanation, many people are not happy with the latest system for testing, fearing it sends out a confusing and disappointing message, whilst it avoids the issue of doping among lower level athletes.
Fans have been left aghast following claims by the Sunday Times and ARD that the London Marathon as been won seven times in 12 years by athletes with suspicious blood values.
Olympic athletes such as Robert Harting has said he does not trust the IAAF, while Nick Willis said he thinks the top athletes are being protected "for the sake of the sport".

Do you think Seb Coe can successfully dispel the uncertainty around doping in athletics?


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