December 08, 2014

MONACO (AP) The allegations of systematic doping in Russia should push the IAAF to set up an independent body to handle drug-testing in track and field, Sebastian Coe said Monday.

Coe, the British middle-distance great who is a vice president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, said the sport's image has been disproportionately damaged by doping cases in a small number of countries.

Coe said he has watched the German television channel ARD's documentary which alleged that doping is rife among Russian athletes and that Russian anti-doping officials routinely covered up positive tests in athletics and other sports.

''These are very serious allegations,'' he said. ''It's very, very difficult for our sport. The scope and scale of these allegations takes it beyond simply a competitor deciding to step beyond the moral boundary.''

The IAAF ethics commission is investigating the allegations and is in contact with the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee. Coe said he and other members of the IAAF council have received transcripts of the program.

The IAAF currently conducts most of its testing on its own, both in and out competition, but Coe said that should change.

''I do think there is a very strong case now for saying that the testing procedures and the sanctioning procedures should be wholly independent,'' Coe said. ''That will free any of the conflicts that are being alleged by German television in the last few days.''

Coe declared his candidacy last week to become president of the IAAF. Pole vault great Sergei Bubka is also expected to run to succeed Lamine Diack, who steps down next August. Doping will surely be a key issue in the campaign.

�''This is not in every country of the world - there are 213 federations,'' Coe said. ''But you do have to say a disproportionate amount of the reputational damage is in a relatively small number of countries, and I think we have to recognize this.''

�The French sports daily L'Equipe has also raised questions about meetings in Moscow hotels in 2011 between Valentin Balakhnichev, the president of the Russian athletics federation and an IAAF council member, and Massata Papa Diack, the son of Lamine Diack.

Coe said Lamine Diack is fully supportive of the IAAF inquiry.

''If names are in the frame, they will be subject to the investigation,'' Coe said. ''He's certainly not curtailing the work of the ethics committee.''

Coe said he would be in favor of publishing the ethics committee's investigation and confirmed that IAAF rules allow for Russia to be declared non-compliant if the allegations are proven.

�''We do have a category, a status which we refer to as `in good standing,''' Coe said. ''Let's just see where these reports take us.''

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