Sebastian Coe, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), has reiterated his wish to implement lifetime bans on athletes caught doping.
The subject has come again under the spotlight at the IAAF World Championships in London after two-time offender Justin Gatlin beat Usain Bolt, the eight-time Olympic champion and crowd favorite to 100m gold. Gatlin was booed every time he was introduced to the crowd at the London Stadium. Many spectators jeered once it was cleared that the 2004 Olympic champion had won 100m gold and ruined the retiring farewell of Bolt.
In the past, the IAAF President has blamed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and legal systems worldwide for the return of Gatlin to the sport after two doping violations. Coe remarked he had always viewed a life ban as the ultimate sanction and went on to add that we made an error a few years ago in allowing ourselves to go from a four-year to a two-year ban to maintain within the spirit of standardization within WADA -- that was an error. Coe also remarked we should never have done that and added that we have tried life bans consistently, but we have failed in various courts.
Gatlin served a ban of one year in 2004 for testing positive for an amphetamine used in attention-deficit-disorder medication. He was later hit with a doping ban of four years in 2006 for using steroids.
Coe remarked the 100-metre final “was not the perfect script,” and added he is not eulogistic that someone who has served two doping bans has walked off with one of our glittering prizes.
Bolt, on the other hand, defended Gatlin and said he just looks at Gatlin as another competitor and on the day he was a better man. The Jamaican sprinter added Justin has done his time through the years and he has proven himself over and over again.
Gatlin said he has already paid for his mistake. The sprinter said he talked to kids and actually inspired them and also commented that society does that with people who have made mistakes and I hope that track and field understands that too.
Former Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill, pregnant with her second child, recently received heptathlon gold from the 2011 World Championships after Tatyana Chernova, the original winner, was subsequently found to have doped. Ennis-Hill is one of a number of athletes to receive re-allocated medals. Coe remarked these ceremonies were proof that the world governing body of athletics was taking the matter seriously.
Coe also said the very fact that we are re-presenting medals to athletes from the 2009 World Championships in Berlin tells him that we are not throwing this under the carpet. The IAAF President added the public want to see that and also said he is determined to get those records and those medals back into the hands of their rightful owners and commented that his only sadness is that they were robbed of that opportunity in the first place. Coe also said we take this really seriously but the history of this is not one we are going to walk away from, nor should we and also remarked he is not in a position to recast the past, but he can shape the future.
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