Lamine Diack, outgoing president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has said that despite admitting his sport faces a crisis over allegations of doping, he believes that “99 per cent” of its athletes are clean.
Diack, who has served as president for 16 years, will step down from his position at the end of the 2015 World Championships, which take place from August 22-30 in the Chinese capital of Beijing. He will be replaced by Sebastian Coe, the British former 1,500m Olympic champion who was elected to the role yesterday (Wednesday).
The change in leadership comes at an uncertain time for the IAAF, which has come under scrutiny in recent weeks over concerted allegations surrounding doping in athletics.
Speaking today (Thursday) at the closing press conference of the 50th IAAF Congress, Diack said: “We found ourselves in a situation where there were serious accusations, allegations of doping, about the very ethics and integrity of our sport. Of course there is a crisis, because we are targeted by these accusations. What was the aim of these accusations I cannot tell you.
“We can't afford to have our performances in doubt. We are convinced 99 per cent of our athletes are clean. We do 3,000 tests per year and I have 200 tests positive and 2,800 that are negative. You focus on the news, that is the 200 positive tests. We have no lesson to be taught by any other sport. We have done what we had to do before the others against this standing struggle. We will continue to do our job like we have always done.”
Coe yesterday pledged to introduce an independent anti-doping commission to counter perceived “conflicts and loopholes” as he outlined his vision as the new president of the IAAF.
Diack added: “We have a new president elect and at this time when I leave I say I leave behind a sport that is marvellous with beautiful performances. Seb is big enough and strong enough to face up to these allegations and to show that wrong accusations are indeed wrong accusations. He loves this sport and he is very experienced. He will do his job, he will do a great job. He knows much more about sport than I do.”