4 May 2016

WADA Talks Live with Lord Sebastian Coe

  • The IAAF President’s on-stage interview was one of the highlight features of the WADA Anti-Doping Organization (ADO) Symposium in March
  • In the interview, Coe stated that in a year’s time his sport will look “very, very different than it does today”
  • Admits that WADA’s Independent Commission Report into widespread doping in Russian athletics is the “chunkiest challenge” he has faced in his career
  • States that the IAAF’s biggest challenge is reaching the next generation of potential athletics stars

In this first ever edition of WADA Talks Live, we sat down with Lord Sebastian Coe, the two-time Olympic gold medalist and current President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), for a unique on-stage interview in front of the international anti-doping community at the WADA ADO Symposium in March. During the interview, the IAAF President discussed his own illustrious career, his take on anti-doping, while also providing an update on the anti-doping reform measures being taken by the IAAF.

Reflecting on his own athletic career and his awareness of athlete doping at that time, Coe said: “I was aware of doping being an issue; I was talking and writing about it at the end of the 1970s so for me, this is getting on to be a 40-year long crusade”. He admitted that the Independent Commission Report into widespread doping in Russian athletics was the “chunkiest challenge” he has faced in his career. Coe spoke of his personal decision to attend the press conference that announced the outcomes of the second part of the Commission’s Report in January, and his reaction to WADA Founding President, Richard Pound’s endorsement of his presidency:  “I was very grateful for Dick’s observations; the reason I wanted to be in Munich was simply that I didn’t want anybody to think that our sport wasn’t confronting the enormity of the accusations and the subsequent findings of the report. I didn’t want anybody to think, contrary to popular belief, that somehow I would want to close down media scrutiny, which I fundamentally believe is one of the great rights in the world.”

Looking ahead, Coe acknowledged: “I have a twin challenge: to return trust to the IAAF and return trust to the sport; but particularly, to create systems that are safe and secure for clean athletes. Because if this isn’t about the athletes, we might as well all go home.”

Finally, in discussing what he would like his IAAF legacy to look like, Coe said: “Anti-doping is not our biggest problem. [Our biggest problem] is exciting young people to want to take up our sport. We haven’t done that well enough; and so it is very important that we don’t take our eye off the ball here. We need to find the new generation.”

WADA Talks sees the agency’s Senior Manager, Media Relations and Communications, Ben Nichols, interviewing leading figures from the athlete community, sport, government and other partners involved in the clean sport movement.

To watch WADA Talks with Sebastian Coe, and to see other videos from the Agency’s collection, please visit the WADA Talks Playlist on WADA’s YouTube Channel.