London 2012 was arguably the most memorable games of all time but the reputation of athletics has been severely muddied in the intervening four years, with Russia currently barred from competing in Brazil in eight months’ time.
Having taken over the IAAF presidency in August 2015, Coe was behind the sport’s governing body indefinitely banning Russia from competition in November after World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accused Russian officials and coaches of covering up widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes, including London 2012 medal winners.
Speaking at an appearance at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in the UAE yesterday, however, Coe is confident that the magic of athletics is what Rio 2016 will be remembered for.
“No I don’t think the scandals will cast a shadow over the Olympics,” said the four-time Olympic medalist.
“The Olympics is a fantastic opportunity for our sport to showcase clean athletes. London was a great opportunity and before that Beijing.
“We have great Olympic Games and track and field is the number one Olympic sport so it is our responsibility to showcase our sport in the best possible way.
“I’m confident the pureness of the sport will shine through in August, that’s our objective. It’s why we do what we do at the federation. Always to protect clean athletes.”
Since assuming the role of IAAF chief, Coe has not had an easy ride and has attracted his critics, but he is defiant when he says he will not shy away from the issues plaguing athletics.
“It’s a big job, but I’m not shying away from it,” said the 59-year-old.
“I’m pleased I’ve got some very, very good quality colleagues who are part of that change process as well and that’s how we will look at this next year.
“We’re making a lot of changes. I’ve got great support from my council colleagues like (UAE Athletics Federation president) Ahmed Al Kamali.
“Our objective is to change the way we do things and also to bring trust back, both to the federation and to the sport. Primarily we want clean athletes to know that we are going to create systems for them that they can trust in.”
Coe’s fellow Briton Paula Radcliffe has also had her reputation tarnished since being named in a Sunday Times report last September as one of 5,000 endurance athletes who had recorded suspicious tests.
Radcliffe, the women’s marathon world record holder, was exonerated by the IAAF in November and cleared by the World Anti-Doping Agency of any wrongdoing earlier this month.
“It is of course very important and good news, and we must be very careful never to play fast and loose with the reputations of clean athletes, that is part of our task,” said Coe.
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