By Mike Rowbottom

Lord Sebastian Coe ©Getty ImagesSebastian Coe has asked the hard question of the US anti-doping authorities following their reduction of Tyson Gay's doping ban in exchange for what they described as the "significant assistance" he had provided them with - namely, what that assistance was?

Coe, a vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) with a transparently good prospect of becoming President next year, has also said athletes should provide assistance to anti-doping authorities without using the help as a bargaining chip to reduce doping bans.

Gay's ban was reduced from two years to one, backdated from when he tested positive for a banned steroid at the US Championships, and the former world 100 and 200 metres champion will be eligible to return to the track on June 23.

"Well, first of all the IAAF has to look at this case," Coe told Reuters TV.

"We haven't had the opportunity to explore it properly.

"We would need to know what 'significant assistance' meant.

"And it is for our anti-doping teams at our headquarters in Monaco and the anti-doping board to decide if the sanction is appropriate."

Tyson Gay running in last year's Lausanne meeting, his last before doping suspension ©AFP/Getty ImagesTyson Gay running in last year's Lausanne meeting, his last before doping suspension ©AFP/Getty Images

He added: "This is not just about athletes proving or testing positive, and then once they've tested positive, starting to talk and help agencies."

"We would rather the athletes were helping, assist the agencies before they were tested or proven positive.

"For me, that's quite important.

"We need the cooperation of all athletes, and the most important aspect of testing is to protect the clean athlete."

The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) claimed Gay's assistance had included "being interviewed on several occasions by USADA and providing all of the products he was using at the time of his positive tests".

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