And so it begins, the inevitable PR moon walk by the new IAAF president as he tries to draw back from the cliff of doom that revelations of corruption and greed have brought his organization to as 2015 bleeds into 2016.
Yesterday, IAAF president Sebastian Coe offered a road map for Rebuilding Trust in a press statement released from IAAF headquarters in Monaco. In it Coe commented: “Be under no illusion about how seriously I take these issues.”
I don’t know, maybe it’s just cynical me, but when I read that press release I thought, really? Now Lord Coe rises? Now, after the shit is literally dripping off the fan and the sport’s rep is lower than whale turds it’s time to disinfect?
Where was this erect stance all those years as IAAF vice president — or chairman of FIFA’s independent watchdog ethics commission, for that matter? Cause look how ethical that crowd turned out to be.
Now we see that the Swiss anti-doping agency won’t cooperate with the IAAF due to the systematic corruption and drug scandals that have already come to light. They didn’t even wait for next week’s WADA follow up report promising more damaging douchebaggery at the highest levels of international athletics.
It all comes across like the jaded cop waiting for his pension to come through. How else to look at the last several years? Cause it’s either he knew what was going on and chose to look the other way, had a hand in, or was being used as a Saville Row suited butt boy by Lamine Diack and his pack of wolves until the Senegalese Sleaze stepped down and opened up the corner office. The most generous reading was that Seb must have had one hellacious head cold and couldn’t smell the whole thing as it rotted from the head.
Okay, say his sin was one of omission not commission. Fine, but let’s not forget how much pressure it took for him to divest himself of that six-figure annuity he’d been banking all those years as a Nike brand ambassador. And recall that his initial reaction was to see no conflict-of-interest in that financial arrangement and his position as IAAF president. It wasn’t until the public outcry made his position untenable that he gave it up. It’s exactly that kind of assumed privilege, blind spot culture that led this organization onto Idiots Ledge in the first place. Privilege and acquiescence had become the accepted norm.
Now nobody doubts Coe’s athletic standing as one of the all-time greats. Nor is his love of the sport in question. But that’s the thing. When even as noble a sportsman as he falls silent in the face of such predatory corruption and plenary malfeasance, how deeply malevolent had the forces of evil become?
Doesn’t anyone else see this as existential in nature? How could it get any worse?
Look what they did. They literally whored out the sport! They sold her integrity to enrich themselves, while undermining the integral mission of their office in the process. People, that’s first ballot Scumbag Hall of Fame credentials right there! No question. And on it goes in an organization with 214 national governing body members, God forbid, each one its own a principality. Christ Almighty! It’s a system designed for serial abuse.
Why hasn’t the IOC been heard from yet? Aren’t they the bosses of all the Olympic sports? Far as I can see the IAAF has forfeited its imprimatur to run athletics. If not after this, what? Or is this just another example of a body being too big to fail?
Stop and think about it. Like any institution that has been in power over a multi-generational span, the IAAF has calcified into an unreconstructed body, certain of its prerogatives and indignant (imperiously combative?) toward any scrutiny of its application of power. After too much time without oversight the nature of any institution is to erect walls that protect all but the most rogue among them. And rather than serving a body politic, it morphs into a parasite that feeds off its hosts.
In the book Betrayal, The Crisis in the Catholic Church, a former Massachusetts District Attorney recalled a visit to a monsignor in his rectory to talk about a case of child sexual abuse.
“What I realized was how distant, how aloof, how detached the hierarchy of the church had become,” said ex-Essex County D.A. Kevin Burke. “They lived separate lives completely disconnected from the lives of the laity, and we all allowed it to happen.”
Sounds like IAAF to me. Have you ever seen the protocol list for officials that attend any IAAF World Championship? The Sun King Ra would have been jealous!
“No institution can police itself,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “If chemical companies said, ‘just trust us – send us your dioxins; we will clean them up,’ the public would be wary.”
Bishop Brendan Comiskey of Ireland became the first known member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to resign voluntarily because of his mismanagement of a priest who had sexually abused children.
“I did my best,” Comiskey said. “Clearly that was not good enough…As bishop I should be a binding force among people and priests within the ministry of Christ…I now recognize that I am not the person who can best achieve these aims of unity and reconciliation. My continuation in office could indeed be an obstacle to healing.”
Why is no one even talking about that? Just name a committee, wash your hands, and on we go? Come on! Somebody needs to close down that rancid Old Boys Club and start over on a meaningful track.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe needs to recognize that any in-house inspection will no longer work to repair the damage done and mistrust engendered. Only a complete restructuring of the sport, with governance handling governance alone — rather than also being the center for the sport’s commercial interests, too — can hope to resettle the IAAF on the firm ground of trust, integrity and honor that might one day rebuild this sport and its fan base.
But what do I know? I’m just making this crap up as I go.