Thursday 5 December 2019

'Extremely alarming' - UK sports minister raises concerns over WADA report on doping in athletics

Two Chinese swimmers have failed drugs tests
Two Chinese swimmers have failed drugs tests

UK Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has branded the World Anti-Doping Agency's latest report into athletics' doping and corruption scandal "extremely alarming" and said it "raises huge questions about governance at the IAAF".

A second report compiled by an independent commission of WADA said the IAAF Council - which included Seb Coe, now the president of the sport's world governing body - ''could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics''.

Crouch said: "The findings of WADA's independent commission are extremely alarming. It raises huge questions about governance at the IAAF that have to be addressed as a matter of absolute urgency.

"Athletes and sports fans alike have to have faith in the international body that is there to support them and promote clean sport. The IAAF must do all it can to restore its credibility. The government is committed to helping tackle corruption in sport and this issue will be on the agenda at our major anti-corruption summit later this year."

The WADA report said that Coe's right-hand man Nick Davies, who stepped aside from his role as the director of the president's office last month while he is investigated by the IAAF's ethics commission, was ''well aware of Russian 'skeletons' in the cupboard''.

And MP Damian Collins demanded Coe ditch Davies for good.

The culture, media and sport select committee member said on Twitter: "WADA scathing of Nick Davies who must have known of "skeletons in Russian closet". #IAAF must confirm his suspension will be made permanent."

WADA president Sir Craig Reedie described the extent of corruption at the IAAF as "hugely disturbing" and called on Coe to take heed of its recommendations.

Reedie said: "It is hugely disturbing that individuals at the highest levels of the IAAF were abetting and covering up doping for their own financial gain.

"This flagrant disregard for the law and anti-doping rules undermines trust amongst clean athletes, and indeed the public, worldwide. Given their criminal nature, the actions of these individuals are now in the hands of the French justice system."

Coe's predecessor as IAAF president Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack are the subject of a French police investigation over claims they took money to cover up positive tests by Russian athletes.

Reedie added: "I would like to thank the courageous whistle-blowers and investigative journalists who brought this information to WADA; and, in turn, I would like to commend the independent commission for its thorough and impactful work of the past year.

"It is now important that the IAAF, under the leadership of Sebastian Coe, adopts the recommendations of the report in full. For our part, WADA looks forward to working alongside the IAAF to strengthen its anti-doping activities and regain the confidence of its clean athletes worldwide."

Commission chairman Dick Pound, speaking in Munich, gave his full backing to Coe remaining as IAAF president, despite the report's damning verdict on the organisation's response to Russian doping.

And shadow sports minister Clive Efford suggested there were no credible alternatives to Coe.

He said on BBC Sport: "The IAAF is clearly an organisation in need of fundamental reform.

"But Dick Pound is also saying, reading between the lines, that you should be careful what you wish for.

"If you bring down Seb Coe, you never know who might come in."

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