World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has said that the creation of the fully independent Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is one of his proudest achievements, adding that devolving rather than hugging power is the way forward for all sporting organisations.
The AIU was established in 2017 and is responsible for the management of all aspects of the anti-doping programme for international-level athletes and support personnel, as well as for the management of all other integrity-related programmes.
It has widely been praised by officials in the Olympic Movement.
"The AIU is probably one of my proudest achievements," Coe told British lawyer Jonathan Taylor in a Sports Law Q&A podcast.
"It was absolutely centre of the reforms.
"I had identified the need for an integrity unit in my manifesto before I was remotely aware of probably the importance and the need to get it up and running quite as quickly as we had to.
"But we had had a grotesque intrusion into doping violations by Russia, not uniquely Russia but on this occasion lividly Russia.
"My predecessors had also behaved in a way that was entirely inappropriate.
"And so the Integrity Unit I think is very different from anything else that is currently in the world of sport.
"Because we are not just dealing with anti-doping.
"I think I recognised early on, as did the reform group, that if you have anti-doping an issue, you almost certainly have a hinterland of other corrupt practices around it.
"But nobody is sitting there, and nor should they remotely be, thinking ‘I’m an Olympic champion or a triple world record holder and therefore this organisation will think I’m far too big to be disposable in the sport.’
"Those days are gone.
"I guess the proof of the pudding in all these organisations is ‘would you be prepared to look at the nominally very top person in that organisation?’"
Coe recalled that in 2019 he was challenged himself with an accusation that he had misled a Parliamentary Select Committee.
"That was then put to what was then the Ethics Board, in part driven through the workings of the AIU, and they looked at it," the double Olympic 1500m gold medallist added.
"So it was exactly the same way I have always said that the AIU when it comes anti-doping violations will be absolutely fearless about reputation.
"It doesn’t matter what level of the sport you are in, if you fall foul you will be held to exactly the same accountability as somebody who has maybe a lesser status in the sport.
"I think that’s a very important message, that these structures were prepared to look at the President himself.
"That‘s always a slightly disarming moment, but that’s when you know that the organisation that you have helped create is actually doing the right job."
The then IAAF Ethics Board concluded in April 2019 that there was no evidence that any disciplinary case could be established that Coe intentionally misled the Parliamentary Committee and accordingly the investigator recommended against disciplinary charges being laid, which the board accepted.
Coe noted that the average tenure for Presidents of the athletics world governing body, previously called the International Association of Athletics Federations, is 31 years.
"I can confidently tell everyone that I will not be doing 31 years," he said.
"Because actually we now have term limits.
"So the basis of power, even the definition of power, has so fundamentally altered that I think even the expression ‘governing body’ is a slightly archaic way of looking at what a sport properly structured should do.
"I have a problem with even the terminology of ‘governing body’"
"The days of being able to command and control in any organisation are over.
"Whether it’s the International Olympic Committee, whether it’s my own sport, even within Government there are micro-players out there that you have to be cognisant of and that you have to work with."
Coe recalled a conversation he had had with someone who questioned the wisdom of his "giving up power".
"I was explaining how, for instance, we would rebalance the power of the President, so that decisions couldn’t be made individually, there would be an executive board, there would be tiers of government structure that would prevent me doing something that was egregious or just frankly stupid," Coe said.
"They looked at me and said 'You have worked so hard to become President of your sport, why are you so lightly giving up your power?’
"And I said ‘Look, I’m not giving up power, I’m actually sharing it.’
"I didn’t come into the sport to take power, I came into it to enable others at every level in this sport to feel that they had some kind of collegiate responsibility to the sport."