IAAF's Vice president Sergey Bubka has said that athletics cannot afford to fail in its battle against doping and that the sport is a standard bearer for all sports in the fight against drugs cheats.
“Athletics is the most fundamental of all sports and the way the world sees athletics influences the way it views all sports. We cannot fail because the world would lose faith not only in athletics but in other sports and that would be a catastrophe for young people worldwide.
Bubka, who is a candidate to become President of the IAAF says the election in Beijing on August 19 must mark the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the organisation and of a new phase in the battle on doping.
“We must be more proactive and even more transparent in our aggressive pursuit of a zero tolerance policy against doping cheats,” he said.
“That means working even more closely with WADA, the IOC, National Federations, National Doping Agencies and government bodies to ensure the process by which cheats are identified and prosecuted is truly independent.
"We need to support WADA and constantly drive it to ensure that together we have the latest technology and most advanced science at our disposal. This is a battle we can’t afford to lose, for the sake of athletics and all sports.”
“We need to work even more diligently and effectively and in a co-ordinated fashion with established bodies to find the best solutions to ensure the detection and punishment of cheats at every level of our sport and in every part of the world.
"It is clear that we need more people working at the IAAF to tackle the biggest challenge our sport faces – identifying doping cheats and protecting clean athletes.
“At present the anti-doping system is too complex and takes too long. It needs to be simplified to become faster and more efficient and we need to deploy the best research and science to ensure that we keep a step ahead of the dopers.
“We must work with bodies who share our interest in ensuring clean sport to contribute to funding the personnel, expertise and technology which will help us win this battle,” he stated.
Sergey Bubka is particularly concerned that some youngsters coming into the sport may be vulnerable to pressure exerted by experienced adults in a position of trust. He says it is essential that those who abuse that trust are identified and eliminated from athletics.
“Young people coming into athletics are not pre-disposed to cheat. However they can be influenced by those they rely upon for advice and guidance and this is an area we must focus on.
“Coaches, managers and others who are part of an athlete’s entourage have a massive responsibility for protecting our sport and for the wellbeing of the athletes in their charge.
"We have to be even more active in taking steps to educate them about their responsibilities and the penalties for failing to do so. That means organising effective courses and seminars at all levels of athletics to cover the entire world.
“We must investigate the role of entourage members when doping offences are detected and ensure that those in any way involved are banished from the sport."
Sergey Bubka has a unique insight into the role of the entourage in athletics. Drawing on his own experience as world champion athlete he was instrumental in the establishment of the IOC’s Entourage Commission which he has chaired since its inception in 2010.
“We have to pursue a policy of education which is then supported by rigorous enforcement and maximum possible sanctions against those who break the rules.
"The idea of coaches and others close to athletes being complicit in or even encouraging doping is entirely unacceptable. They are poisoning minds, poisoning bodies and poisoning our sport,” he added.
Sergey Bubka has constantly stated his support of a zero tolerance policy towards doping in sport and for maximum sanctions in keeping with existing legislation, natural justice and respect for human rights.