Athletics: London bid must wait until 2005, says IAAF head

BRITISH HOPES of staging the World Championships at Wembley in 2003 were effectively dealt a fatal blow last night by Lamine Diack, the acting president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, when he put his weight behind the rival bid from Paris.

"It is simple," said the Senegalese after his first day presiding over the IAAF Council here. "One city is ready, the other is not."

At the earliest, Wembley will not be completed until mid-2003, and the announcement earlier this week that the new National Stadium will not even have a permanent athletics facility only further undermined the bid.

The IAAF Council yesterday confirmed that Diack would act as Primo Nebiolo's successor until the next planned Congress, in 2001. Diack then endorsed Nebiolo's World Championship masterplan.

"Primo Nebiolo knew that if we could engage in long-term marketing and television contracts, it would be very beneficial," Diack said. "I expect the 2003 World Championships to be at the Stade de France, and 2005 to be at Wembley."

Diack, aged 66, a former French long jump champion who heads the Senegal water board and is the father of 15 children, heralded a more collegiate approach to the IAAF. "The era of kings, dictators and popes is over," he said, a reference to his predecessor.

Today, the Council will turn its attention to the recommendation that the doping cases involving Linford Christie and Gary Cadogan should be referred to arbitration. Both Britons, accused of using the steroid nandrolone, were cleared by a UK Athletics disciplinary hearing.