Coe: Worlds should be more than a discussion on doping
BEIJING (AP) Sebastian Coe cut into one last, rambling news conference from retiring IAAF president Lamine Diack in a bid to characterize the attitude of the new regime running the sport.
''We're more than a discussion about test tubes, blood and urine,'' Coe, who will replace the 82-year-old Diack as president after the world championships, said Sunday at the Bird's Nest. ''It is sadly, slightly the territory that we've inherited and I think one of my responsibilities is to move the sport off that territory.''
A swirling doping controversy overshadowed the buildup to the world championships in Beijing, which included the election of Coe to replace Diack after a 16-year tenure. Coe has promised to establish an independent anti-doping tribunal and to review the administration of the sport, a process which he has already started. There were two positive doping cases during the championships, both female Kenyan runners, which the IAAF hailed as evidence that its targeted anti-doping program was working.
There was immense pressure on Usain Bolt to perform in Beijing, where he burst to international fame during the 2008 Olympics, and put the spotlight back on the athletes.
By successfully defending his titles in the 100 and 200 meters and in Jamaica's 4x100 relay, Bolt went a long way toward doing that. Mo Farah's long-distance double in the 5,000 and 10,000 and Ashton Eaton's world record in the decathlon helped keep the public attention on athletic performances rather than performing-enhancing substances.
Talk has already started turning to the post-Bolt era - which could start after next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro - and the impact of his absence on a sport that is dealing with an image problem.
Coe, a two-time Olympic 1,500-meter champion and key player in the team that bid for and organized the 2012 London Olympics, said it was already on his mind.
''We shouldn't be concerned because we have a sport that is adorned by some of the most outrageous, super-human talented people in any sport,'' Coe said. ''There are other athletes in our sport.''
He likened the IAAF's challenge to the one that boxing administrators faced when Muhammad Ali was at the peak of his powers, and what would happen after he retired.
''Well, after Muhammad Ali, Marvin Hagler happens. After Muhammad Ali, (Thomas) Hearns happens. Sugar Ray Leonard ... (Floyd) Mayweather,'' Coe said. ''It happens. But yes, what we have to concede (is) I don't think any athlete - any sportsman or woman - since Muhammad Ali has captured the public imagine and propelled a sport as quickly and as far as Usain Bolt has.
''We do need to make sure that people understand that we have (other) extraordinary talents - that's our job, and that's the twin challenge I guess.''
John Pye can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/byjohnpye