Coe: Portland 2016 'Important Part of Road to Recovery'

(ATR) The IAAF president says clean results at the indoor world championships can help rebuild trust in athletics.

(ATR) International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe says doping-free results at the world indoor championships in Portland could help rebuild trust in athletics.

The first IAAF world championships held in the United States in 29 years begin today at the Oregon Convention Center while the sport of athletics is clouded in the stigma of doping violations. Coe believes the event could be a stepping stone to regaining credibility but the road ahead isn’t easy.

"We're not going to return to trust overnight, it is not a straightforward equation," Coe told media at the opening press conference in Pioneer Courthouse Square. "You don't stick $10 in the slot machine and suddenly trust emerges in the tray."

"This is an important staging post in the athletics season; it is an important part of our road to recovery."

Although the indoor championships can help move the federation forward, the effects of the recent doping scandals will have an impact on the competition. The impact is clear on the opening night of competition where two-time Olympic champion and outdoor world record holding pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva will be absent.

Although she does not have doping allegations against her, Isinbayeva is ineligible to compete due to the ban placed on the country by the IAAF in November 2015.

The IAAF Council chose to postpone Russia’s reinstatement decision until its next meeting in May which will determine whether Russian athletes can compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics this August.

Isinbayeva’s absence denies fans the opportunity to see the outdoor world record holder square off against the indoor world record holder from the U.S. Jenn Suhr.

Suhr will be one of the biggest draws among the 600 athletes along with U.S. decathlete and world record holder Ashton Eaton. The event will not feature Team USA stars such as Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross as well as Jamaican sprint champion Usain Bolt.

Despite the lack of the sport’s biggest names, Coe believes the 7,000 seat temporary stadium will be full.

"Our sport is still strong," Coe says. "That’s not to deny that it’s been through some challenging, dark days – you’d be surprised if I concluded anything else than that. But the ticket sales here have been very, very strong."

"I think the very fact they are coming in tells me that there is a strong loyalty to our sport."

Once these championships conclude on March 20, Oregon will pick up preparations for the world outdoor championships set for Eugene in 2021. Eugene also hosted the junior outdoor championships in 2014 and its track and the city are known as TrackTown, USA.

"I genuinely believe this will be the reawakening of track and field in this country," says Coe.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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