Congratulations to President Seb
I was delighted to wake up yesterday morning and hear the news that Seb Coe is the new President of the IAAF. It is perhaps not the best timing for him to step in to the shoes of Lamine Diack when all the coverage is about drugs in sport. There is a chance that the World Championships in Beijing will help move on the discussion but it will be impossible to stay away from action for long
There is no easy answer to what the problems may be, Steve Cram was right when he said that some of the headlines have been sensationalised. But it hides a harder truth about the sport, and one that they have to tackle. When Britain's Brian Cookson became President of the International Cycling Federation he did it on the back of years of scandal in the sport. Lance Armstrong was in the news and Cookson's platform was largely about bringing the sport back in to line
For Coe, his platform was more about participation and now he has been thrust in to the limelight on a very different topic. While you have national federations, who have it in their own interest to protect their athletes from losing medals or serving a banned period then change will be almost impossible. In the latest case of Asli Cakir Alptekin where she has lost her 2012 medal, her federation initially didn't have a case to answer. She is now serving an eight year ban. And how do you decide who gets the medal in her place. How many of the other athletes may subsequently have an adverse finding in their samples? In the case of Armstrong it was impossible to declare a new winner of the Tour de France as more and more cases became public.
There may be other issues that Coe thinks are important to deal with, like sponsorship for the Diamond League events, but the public perception is very important. Will sponsors want to become further involved in a sport when there are allegations?
Coe has a smart political brain and an ability to cut through problems. In the past he has put really good people around him (and never afraid like some to only put people less qualified) and I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't do the same now. He will need strong people to be his eyes and ears. Of course I want him to sort out the issues around drugs, but I would also like to see greater inclusion of disabled athletes in mainstream events. His knowledge of Paralympic sport will help him see some of the positive opportunities that greater inclusion will bring for both sides of the sport