Coe issues doping warning

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Athletics is in danger of being destroyed by drugs cheats, Lord Coe said yesterday.

Britain's twice Olympic middle-distance champion said the sport was reeling from a series of doping controversies and would struggle to cope with any more major scandals.

"We cannot have another five years like the ones we've just been through because I'm not sure the sport would survive that," he told a lunch gathering in Melbourne yesterday.

Lord Coe, who is vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations and chairs the organising committee for the London 2012 Games, said measures needed to be taken to catch cheats before they won medals. Athletics has been hurt by scandals such as the jailing of Marion Jones for lying about steroid use to a grand jury.

"We've got to make sure that we've got systems in place that detect and that have penalties that are proportionate to the damage that is being done to our sport," Coe said.