Lord Coe: Doping allegations a 'declaration of war', says IAAF vice-president

'The fightback has to start here,' said Coe

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Sebastian Coe has called the allegations levelled against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) “a declaration of war”.

The governing body has also called the claims “sensationalist and confusing” in a lengthy and combative statement.

Coe, who is standing for the IAAF presidency later this month, said the organisation must “come out fighting” and disputes the claims made by The Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD that the IAAF either failed to act or covered up abnormal test results. He said he took “grave exception” to the reports.

"The fightback has to start here," said Coe, an IAAF vice-president.

"It is a declaration of war on my sport. There is nothing in our history of competence and integrity in drug-testing that warrants this kind of attack."

The IAAF said: “The published allegations were sensationalist and confusing: the results referred to were not positive tests. In fact, ARD and The Sunday Times both admit their evaluation of the data did not prove doping.”

The claims at the weekend alleged that a third of all medallists in endurance events from 2001-12, including 55 golds, had at some point returned an “abnormal” test result.

The database the journalists analysed, with the help of two international doping experts, was the IAAF’s own records, which the body has now claimed it had published itself in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2011.

"The use of this stuff, the sensationalising, this is absolutely an attempt to destroy the reputation of the athletes and our sport," Coe added.

"Nobody is remotely suggesting that news organisations don't have the right to question and challenge and kick the tyres. But this selective use of this so-called information is just wrong."