IAAF President Rebuffs Claims London Olympics Dirtiest Ever

(ATR) Sebastian Coe rubbishes suggestions London Games were the dirtiest in Olympic history in wake of new doping positives

ROME, ITALY - MAY 07:  Lord Sebastian Coe, President of IAAF, takes a speach during the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championship Rome 2016 Opening Ceremony on May 7, 2016 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for IAAF)
ROME, ITALY - MAY 07: Lord Sebastian Coe, President of IAAF, takes a speach during the IAAF World Race Walking Team Championship Rome 2016 Opening Ceremony on May 7, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images for IAAF)

(ATR) Sebastian Coe has rubbished claims that the London Games were the dirtiest ever in the wake of new doping positives.

The IOC announced last week that 23 athletes from six countries in five sports failed drug tests following retesting of 265 London 2012 doping samples, with the possibility of more to come. On Saturday, the Russian Olympic Committee confirmed that eight Russian athletes were among those who tested positive, raising further doubts about whether the IAAF should lift Russia’s suspension for the Rio Games at a crunch meeting on June 17.

More than 30 athletes had already returned positive doping results during the London Olympics or in the months that followed.

Coe, who headed the London 2012 organising committee, said those suggesting the Games were the dirtiest in Olympic history failed to grasp the context.

"Nobody who understands the historic world of doping in sport could possibly conclude from the retests that London was a less secure Games for athletes than any before it," the IAAF chief said in his Sunday Telegraph column.

The double Olympic champion in 1,500 metres, who won one of his medals at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, said the technology for drug testing at the time was "prehistoric". In the build-up to the Games, he said the circuit that many athletes chose "was predicated in large part on the avoidance of testing".

"Let us be very careful how we interpret the events of this week with the history and context that exists," Coe said.

"It would be delusional to say the London Games was 'in the words of many yesterday' dirtier than Games before.

"It would make no sense and I do not think anyone seriously believes that even as recently as Sydney or Athens, that the technology, the systems and our understanding driven by technology and intelligence testing was on a lesser scale than then or games 20, 30 or even 40 years ago."

Coe said the big message for athletes from Friday, when the IOC revealed the new positive drug tests from London 2012, was "to recognise that just because they may be ahead of the testing technology at a particular moment in their career, it does not mean they can lie easy in their beds until excitable grandchildren pour over Olympic medals in their dotage.

"They will be caught. They will then have the discomfort of explaining to those grandchildren why they no longer possess those medals. More is being done to catch cheats than ever before."

He added: "We will not stop collecting data, sharing information, building profiles, developing testing techniques and technology or calling out and prosecuting cheats in our efforts to protect and promote clean sport.

"The Rio 2016 Games will be cleaner for it. That should be the story."

"All athletes found to have infringed the anti-doping rules will be banned from competing at the Olympic Games Rio 2016," the IOC said.

News of the London 2012 drug cheats comes in the wake of the IOC’s announcement that 32 athletes tested positive after reanalysis of 454 samples from the Beijing 2008 Games. A total of 14 Russian athletes were in that group.

Reported by Mark Bisson

20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is AroundTheRings.com, for subscribers only.