Hounding of Lord Coe is hardly sporting behaviour

Ian Payne

Former Sports Correspondent

Lord Coe Credit: PA

I was speaking to a very senior member of British sporting administration this morning. He was dismayed. He told me "Here we go. Crucifying yet another one of our sporting heroes".

The administrator in question had just finished an interview in which he'd been quizzed about the latest IAAF scandal, and the role of Lord Coe. He suggested that we in the media are obsessed with destroying many of our sporting icons.

Many of us are old enough to remember when Lord Coe, or simply Seb Coe as he was known then, won successive Olympic 1,500 metres Gold medals in Moscow in 1980 and Los Angeles in 1984.

Coe shows off his gold and silver medals after the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games Credit: PA

Since then he's gone on to have a successful career in politics and sports body governance. His greatest triumph, however, was securing the London 2012 Olympics. He did it with a devastatingly influential speech in front of the International Olympic Committee before they voted in Singapore in 2007.

He stressed how London's diversity and its growing international youth population could deliver a Games legacy unlike any other. It proved decisive.

He also masterminded The Games themselves. He was then, a true hero.

The star-studded opening of the 2012 London Olympics Credit: PA

He is now, of course, The head of Athletics governing body, the IAAF. And yesterday the scale of corruption under his predecessor, Lamine Diack, was laid bare by a press conference held by the World Anti Doping Authority (WADA).

It detailed cover ups, kick backs, systematic drug use and extortion. They claimed members of the IAAF council, which presumably included Coe who was Vice President at the time, "could not have been unaware".

And yet, WADA exonerated Coe yesterday, with chairman Dick Pound saying "I can't think of anyone better to lead athletics ".

Paula Radcliffe is one of a number of UK sports stars to face unfair rumours Credit: PA

So why, asked my administrator this morning, are we still going after him ? Every question posed in his interview, he said, was aimed at getting him to discredit Coe.

We've seen it all before. Mo Farah endured a summer of unfounded rumour about drug taking. Paula Ratcliffe, also exonerated yesterday, has been batting away drug whispers. Chris Froome, Britain's first ever double Tour De France winner, was spat and sworn at during last year's race because of unsubstantiated drug claims. The list goes on.

I guess destruction is often a better story than triumph.