Athletics doping: Lord Coe has been naive, says Martyn Rooney

Martyn Rooney
Martyn Rooney reached the 400m semi-finals at London 2012

Athlete Martyn Rooney has questioned whether IAAF president Lord Coe knew of problems at athletics' governing body or had his "head in the sand".

It comes after a World Anti-Doping Agency independent report accused Russia of "state-sponsored doping".

Coe indicated "rogue elements" may have infiltrated the IAAF, where he was vice-president for eight years.

"It is pretty disrespectful to believe the vice-president did not know what was going on within IAAF," said Rooney.

"That is his job and if he believes he did not know what was going on he has not been doing his job properly," he added.

British 400m runner Rooney, 28, was Team GB's captain at the World Championships in Beijing this summer.

"Lord Coe is an icon for British athletes and has inspired generations but I felt he was a bit naive with his comments post the report," said Briton Rooney, who reached the 400m semi-finals at London 2012.

"I want to believe he is the right person for the job. I feel he is strong and smart enough to be that person, it is just whether it is the best thing for athletics to have someone who was involved in the IAAF at that period still involved at the turnaround."

Russia doping crisis in 60 seconds

On Monday the independent Wada report also said IAAF inaction led to the London 2012 Olympics being "sabotaged"

Coe, who was widely praised for his role as 2012 Olympic Games chief, worked with predecessor Lamine Diack when he was vice-president at the IAAF.

Diack was provisionally suspended by the International Olympic Committee earlier this week as he is the subject of a police investigation into allegations he took bribes to cover up positive drugs tests.

"Should we have seen this coming? The answer is possibly yes. But we need to look at the internal governance that allowed that to happen. That is now my responsibility," Coe told Channel Four on Monday.external-link

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Coe has won support from many athletes who believe he is the right man to lead athletics.

In an interview with BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek on Sunday, he said: "The day after I got elected, I started a massive review. Understandably, in the light of the allegations that have been made, that review has been accelerated.

"I'm more determined than ever to rebuild the trust in our sport. However, this is a long road to redemption."

The independent report's author, Dick Pound, recommended Russian athletes be suspended from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

The IAAF will consider Russia's response to Wada's claims later on Friday.

Russia could be suspended - Coe

"I don't think I was that shocked, more disappointed about how far it went and how corrupt things were and maybe still are," said Rooney.

"There are a lot of athletes who missed out on medals because of cheating Russians. There are a couple of the women's 800m and 1500m runners who finished second, third, fourth because of Russians who have since failed drugs tests.

"There is obviously a lot of anger towards the Russian federation and the IAAF for letting it happen but I think the disappointing thing was that not many athletes were surprised. If the athletes are not surprised, how can the IAAF be?

"The only way for this to be sorted is strong messages across the board. If it means people lose their heads then that is what is going to have to happen."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered an investigation into the claims, while the country's athletics federation hopes to prevent its athletes being banned from next year's Olympics by claiming "irregularities" around its drug-testing system were down to the sport's "old leadership".

"In our report for the IAAF, we agreed with some of Wada's positions," Vadim Zelichenok, acting president of the Russian athletics federation, told TASS news agency.

"However, we explained that all these irregularities happened under the old leadership of the Russian athletics federation and took place some time ago."

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