Sebastian Coe pledges BOA will fight for longer drug bans


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The Independent Online

Sebastian Coe took on the "monumental responsibility" of the chairmanship of the British Olympic Association yesterday with a promise to continue to campaign for lengthier bans for drug cheats.

Coe has long been a vocal anti-doping campaigner – throughout his time as an athlete and an administrator – and supported the BOA's life ban for any Briton caught doping. The BOA was forced to scrap the life ban earlier this year but has submitted a proposal to Wada, the world anti-doping agency, pushing for a four-year ban, including one Olympic Games.

"You know where I come from over drugs," said Coe after his unopposed election yesterday. "I've been battling that for as long as I've been a competitor. My stance is still non-negotiable and this organisation was quite right to believe that it has to be within the interests and power of the organisation to decide what is best for that organisation. Ninety-nine per cent of the athletes supported that byelaw and I am sorry that we weren't able to uphold it. We will need to think how we will adapt to that landscape.

"I will chair an organisation that will always take a zero-tolerance approach to drug abuse in sport but we have to recognise that we are in a much more complex and complicated legal landscape than we were 30 years ago."

Athletes caught doping are banned for a maximum of two years, which in some cases means they do not miss an Olympics. Coe's standing in world sport has never been higher after overseeing London 2012 – his election yesterday was welcomed by Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, who described him as a "winner" – and he will continue to bang the drum for a tougher stance worldwide. Wada is currently reviewing its code and will announce any alterations in January.

Coe will serve a four-year, unpaid term as chairman, in succession to Colin Moynihan, and under his stewardship the BOA seems likely to rein in attempts to broaden its reach across British sport and focus on its main responsibility of sending teams to the winter and summer Games. Coe said it is not the BOA's role to deliver elite sportsmen and women.

"I consider this to be a huge honour," said Coe, who added that he would never have reached this position had it not been for the BOA's battle to send athletes to the Moscow Games in 1980. "Bringing teams together every two years and giving them the service levels and support they need at the most important moments in their career is a monumental responsibility for any organisation. It needs to be world-class in delivering those services at Games times. Athletes deserve nothing less."