International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe has vowed to restore trust and credibility in the sport, outlining several key timelines to achieve the goal when announcing his roadmap for the future of athletics.
The 59-year-old has also claimed that his sport isn't sustainable in the long-term, and that the average age of its fan-base needs to be urgently lowered.
Coe’s brief tenure in charge of the governing body has been fraught with a series of issues in recent months, including the recent decision of his chief of staff Nick Davies to temporarily step down from his role as deputy secretary general while the Ethics Commission investigated allegations he suggested delaying naming Russian athletes who had tested positive for banned-performance enhancing drugs.
The two-times Olympic 1,500 metres champion has released his vision for the sport going forward, featuring establishing an integrity unit which “ensures greater independence in reviewing key issues impacting upon the integrity of competition such as doping, corruption, betting and age manipulation” before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The setting up of an integrity unit was one of Coe’s manifesto pledges made before the IAAF Presidential Election in Beijing in August, where he was elected to replace Lamine Diack, who is now being accused of "active", rather than "passive", corruption by French magistrates.
The Senegalese octogenarian is accused of accepting bribes to cover up positive drugs cases involving Russian athletes.
Coe has also reiterated his vow to double the anti-doping budget from $4 million (£2.7 million/€3.7 million) to $8 million (£5.5 million/€7.4 million) when the integrity unit is set up in a bid to intensify the battle against doping.
Greater accountability of Member Federations in anti-doping and other integrity-related matters has also been outlined, which Coe has said should take place with immediate effect, and the current international testing pool of athletes will also be doubled from 50,000 to 100,000.
This comes as the IAAF attempt to rid the sport of the doping scandals which have plagued the organisation in recent months, culminating in the publication of the World Anti-Doping Independent Commission report, which alleged the presence of a state-supported doping scheme in Russia.
Coe hopes the doubling of the anti-doping budget will allow greater resources to be dedicated to combat the issue, such as employing specific investigative expertise in the integrity unit.
A substantial review of operations and finance within the IAAF, conducted by accountants from Deloitte and lawyers from British firm Freshfields, is due for completion by mid-2016, according to the roadmap.
New Commissions and Special Advisory Groups, formed as a result of extensive vetting of IAAF officials, is also due to be in place midway through this year.
“Be under no illusion about how seriously I take these issues,” Coe said.
“I am President of an International Federation which is under serious investigations and I represent a sport under intense scrutiny.
“My vision is to have a sport that attracts more young people.
“The average age of those watching track and field is 55 years old.
“This is not sustainable.
“The key to making that vision a reality is creating a sport that people once more trust in.
“Athletics must be a sport that athletes, fans, sponsors, media and parents alike know is safe to compete in on a level playing field and one in which clean effort is rewarded and celebrated.”