Two days after a four-year ban was handed to leading American coach Alberto Salazar, Sebastian Coe says Athletes must choose their coaches carefully to avoid any risk of guilt by association.
Coe, speaking to a group of news agency reporters including Reuters, also defended the organisation of the world athletics championships in Qatar, saying that the athletes were not worried about small attendances at the Khalifa stadium.
Salazar was banned by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) on Monday, 30 September 2019 for “orchestrating and facilitating prohibited doping conduct” as head coach of the Nike Oregon Project (NOP), a camp designed primarily to develop US endurance athletes.
Salazar said he would appeal USADA’s decision meanwhile sportswear giant Nike said it would stand by him.
A number of the athletes in Doha train at the NOP including women’s 10 000 metres gold medalist Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands and American Donavan Brazier, who won Tuesday’s men’s 800 metres.
“A banned coach has to sever relationships with those athletes. That is what is taking place,” said Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
“Coaches and athletes have to make a judgement all the time. If you are coached by somebody, you should be absolutely comfortable that you are working in an environment that is safe and secure and is not going to damage your own reputation.”
Coe said he spent every evening on the track talking to athletes, medical staff and delegates and that they were happy with the organisation of the competition, despite the low attendances.
“They are very pleased to be here,” he said. “Yes, we could have done with more spectators in the stadium but there are pretty understandable reasons why that has been a challenge.
“We want a full stadium and that has to be the challenge but we need to focus also on the absolute quality of what we are seeing here,” he added, also pointing out that athletes from 28 countries had won medals so far.
“I can’t remember a world championships actually that has delivered at this level for a long time.
Coe further expressed his views on the matter concerning the organisation and how he plans to deal with it in order to make sure that the competition continues running smooth, “It is what happens. We are dealing with it. It does not derail the championships. It may for you guys, but in reality it is not a broader issue for most people watching the championships.”
He did not want to comment on the NOP itself, “I have no idea,” he said. “I haven’t even read the adjudication. It is not a program I’m remotely across or I understand.”
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