Seb Coe Wants Cross Country in Both Olympics

(ATR) IAAF president says adding long-distance running to the Winter Games would help African countries earn medals.

Boniface Kiprop of Uganda (282), Moses Mosop of Kenya (170), winner Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea, (68), Gideon Ngatuny of Kenya (171), Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia (89) and Edwin Soi of Kenya (172) lead the senior men's race in the 35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya on Saturday, March 24, 2007. (Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage)
Boniface Kiprop of Uganda (282), Moses Mosop of Kenya (170), winner Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea, (68), Gideon Ngatuny of Kenya (171), Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia (89) and Edwin Soi of Kenya (172) lead the senior men's race in the 35th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya on Saturday, March 24, 2007. (Photo by Kirby Lee/WireImage)

(ATR) International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe thinks that adding cross country running to the Winter Olympics could help African countries earn more medals.

"It is a personal view, but I would love to see cross country back in the Olympic program and maybe even the Winter program," Coe told reporters on a visit to the site of the 2019 IAAF Cross Country World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark.

"I think it would be a very good way of giving Africa a better opportunity and a high profile opportunity to engage in the Winter Games," Coe said.

The IAAF president is in Denmark for his election to the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations executive council and to participate in discussions on the sidelines of the annual SportAccord Convention.

While Coe notes he cannot unilaterally make cross country a Winter Olympic sport, he says he has actively sought the sport’s re-inclusion to the Summer Olympics will likely discuss this point with other Olympic stakeholders while in Aarhus.

"I do want to do everything I can to promote cross country," Coe says. "Cross country was in the Olympic Games until 1924, I think in Paris it was a series of relays actually, quite an innovative thought in 1924 given that we introduced relays just last weekend back into the cross country format. So yes, I would love to see cross country with an Olympic status."

Coe also fielded questions regarding a hack of IAAF databases by the Fancy Bears group previously responsible for exposing personal athlete information regarding Therapeutic Use Exemptions. The latest hack further "compromised athletes’ Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) applications stored on IAAF servers" according to an IAAF statement.

"We uncovered this ourselves, this wasn’t something that just happened," Coe told reporters. "We were looking at the safety and security of our systems and unfortunately during that process we discovered that we had been accessed."

"Our first priority is to the athletes who have provided the IAAF with information that they believed would be secure and confidential," Coe said in a statement. "They have our sincerest apologies and our total commitment to continue to do everything in our power to remedy the situation and work with the world’s best organizations to create as safe an environment as we can."

Coe has overseen a range of scandals afflicting the federation including Russian doping, corruption by former IAAF president Lamine Diack and cyber attacks on secure doping systems since his election to lead the athletics federation in August 2015.

However, Coe says these hardships have made the federation stronger.

"It’s not what I planned to be discussing for 18 months but we are an organization that’s more resilient than we were a year ago," he told reporters. "We continue to deliver great events and the very fact we’re here two years in advance of the world cross country championship shows you just how proactive we are in wanting to encourage new and younger audiences into our sport."

The federation now aims to host a successful Cross Country championship in 2019 in Denmark. Coe says preparations for the event are well underway at a course that will provide a great challenge to the competitors.

"As soon as you started to look at the landscape, I soon realized that this was very much in the proper conditions of cross country running," Coe said. "I think it’s time we got back, at least in some of our editions, to a really clear concept of cross country that is in the country and it is on tough courses."

Written by Kevin Nutley

Forgeneral comments or questions, click here.

25 Years at #1: Your best source of news about theOlympics is AroundTheRings.com, for subscribersonly.