Sebastian Coe, IAAF Presidential candidate, has defended the decision to award Eugene the 2021 World Champoinships without a bidding process ©Twitter
Sebastian Coe has defended the International Association of Athletics Federation’s decision to award the 2021 World Championships to Eugene without a bidding process, something which caused particular concern in Sweden, which had been planning its own bid for Gothenburg that year.

Anders Albertsson, general secretary of the Swedish Athletics Association said the decision taken by the IAAF Council in April was “not fair play”, adding: “We were taken by surprise.”

But Coe, who has launched a 100-day plan in support of his bid for the IAAF Presidency in the vote set for August 19, strongly denied any suggestions of impropriety around the decision.

“The overwhelming majority of [IAAF} Council members from all parts of the globe decided that the opportunity to take the world track and field championships  into a market where we have never been before,” he said.

“And given the opportunities that we have for many, many years been trying to promote in the States, we had to do that. It is the world’s largest global sports market.

“It was an opportunity that was presented to the Council for all sorts of reasons, that was probably not going to come around again for some time.

"There were political and financial considerations – and when I talk about that let me be clear it was about the way the funding package came together, it was about the difficulty in the US in getting Governors and Mayors of cities to sign guarantees – it just doesn’t happen.

“A unique funding package came together in the town that is known as Tracktown USA and, yes, we in a way circumvented process, and I think we would be the first to admit that, but I do think good Presidency, which is what Lamine Diack showed that day, and good Council support, which is what we showed that day, recognised that this was a unique opportunity, it did have to be grabbed and it probably wasn’t coming around again.

“And that certainly does not stop in two years’ time a European city throwing its hat into the ring. I’m sure the council would look very favourably at a good European bid. But this was an opportunity that I think was the right opportunity to grab.”

Vin Lalana, President of USATF, hoists the IAAF flag during last year's World Junior Championships. Awarding Eugene the senior version was, says Sebastian Coe, too valuable an opportunity to miss
Vin Lalana, President of last year's World Junior Championships in Eugene, hoists the IAAF flag aloft at the end of the event which has proved to be percusor to the World Championships in 2021 ©Getty Images

Coe also spoke passionately about one of his main aims if he is able to defeat rival Sergey Bubka for the right to succeed President Diack at the next IAAF Congress in Beijing – the establishment of an external, fully Independent anti-doping agency to deal with doping violations in international athletics.

The policy has been formed amid allegations that Russia has been organising a systematised doping system which has gone unchecked by the international governing body, and amid widespread unease about individual athletes including US sprinters Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay returning to the sport after, respectively, serving two doping bans and having a two year ban halved for assisting anti-doping authorities.

“The time is right ,” said Coe, who has been here at the first-ever European Games in his role as chairman of the British Olympic Association. 

“I feel very strongly about this.

"Those of you who have known me for many years will know that in 1981 I was the first athlete to speak at an IOC [International Olympic Committee] Congress. I was given four minute to speak on behalf of the athletes, and I spent 2min 45sec talking about the dangers of doping.

“That is not the full story of our sport, nor should we ever let it be, but an independent anti-doping agency I think is required.

"It will take pressure off Member Federations in terms of resources and litigation."

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Sebastian Coe, pictured with Britain's Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams in Baku, has made anti-doping a central plank of his campaign to be the next IAAF President ©Getty Images

“I want to double the pool - so at the moment we test the top 10 athletes in 47 disciplines and I would like with the agreement of the [IAAF} Council to move that to 20.

“If we double the pool we’ll probably be dealing with more cases each year and I’m prepared to reallocate resources in order to do that.

"I think it is so important now to be seen to be at the forefront and actually to be the template for International Federations.

“This will also speed up the anti-doping process.

"The distance between positive A and B and the actual sanction is often too long.”

On the subject of Gatlin racing, he responded: “I am always uncomfortable with athletes that have failed tests being back in the sport.

"But I also recognise that lifetime bans are not a realistic proposition as there are too many legal restraints against it.”

To read more of the exclusive interview with Sebastian Coe click here

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