IAAF President Sebastian Coe (Getty Image)
IAAF President Sebastian Coe (Getty Image)

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.



  1. A mesmeric series of hits on coe’s endless sleeping on the job. Great athlete….dodgy principles, as you show….


  2. Thank you. The thankless heroes of track and field, you, Kara Goucher, Dick Pound, Steve Magness,Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov. The NFL and MLB could use a few folks with your courage. Very disappointing that Peyton Manning, like Lord Coe will lie his ass off rather then standup and take on the drug problem in their sport.

  3. Toni: I, too, have been just as demoralized by events of the past two years at both the USATF and IAAF but absolutely astounded at the level of exploitation, greed, and unethical behavior exposed in the IAAF this past 6 months. I truly had hopes for my old competitor and friend, Seb Coe, that he might save the IAAF from itself when he was elected President…. but I agree with you that it is hard to imagine that he couldn’t have and shouldn’t have seen some of this earlier and raised the red flag/yellow card much, much sooner. If it is ever shown that he was part of the illicit processes…. such as in the award of the World Champs to Eugene in 2021 where he might very well have been urged by Nike & Craig Masback to “pull strings” to get Eugene the no-bid award….then he should resign immediately. Even if that is not proven…. given his past high positions in the hierarchy… it is difficult for me to consider him an “agent of reform” when he was so much a high profile part of the flawed and perverted process in his earlier roles…. As usual, you raise some very good points and it is very troubling to think seriously thru them. I fear for not only my own country’s NGB in the future…. but for our WGB’s efficacy down the road as well. Both have proven to be “rotten at the core”… at least at the very top. How tragic for all the young athletes around the world who have been betrayed by people who they needed and trusted to lead their sport nationally and globally…. just who the hell do they trust now? If we keep pressure on both Coe and the IAAF.. like your blog does ….maybe they can be forced to enact more reform and housecleaning… just like Seb had to reluctantly do regarding his six figure “world track ambassador annuity” (can we just call it an allowance?) with Nike that he somehow could not see might lead to the perception of a conflict of interest in certain circumstances…..Keep up the good work and never forget the power of the pen/keyboard!

    1. Craig,

      The likes of us have been around a long time, and seen the maintenance of this oligarchic system that not only keeps the athletes in a state of serfdom, but now actually preys on those it is supposed to serve and protect. I find it amazing that a 19th century organization built around the divine right of kings can still maintain its power. But with no one they fear holding them to any standard whatsoever, they are allowed to continue behind their hermetic seal to do as they please.

      The events make up the spine of the sport. They need to stand up and take responsibility. And an athlete’s union needs to be a partner. We still need NGBs, for sure, but only for the limited purpose of governance, not to run the commercial side of a professional sport. But as currently constituted, there is no way they should be allowed near levers of power. In fact, you just wonder when the whole rotten system will collapse under the weight of its own evil.

  4. I have a post script that will horrify you and all your faithful followers. Trump as POTUS is really super scary. Trump as head of the IOC or IAAF might be just what the sport needs. His 800 meter time won’t be a factor.

    What do you think Toni Reavis?

    1. I think some folks approached Mark Cuban a few years back about buying into the sport, because when you stack it up against the other major sports, it would cost a fraction to essentially buy out the whole shebang. But like the Shark that he is, Cuban wanted to see a more detailed plan. As you have said repeatedly, until an alternative arises to challenge the status quo, nothing will change.

  5. I am so bummed as to what has transpired over the last year & especially what we’ve learned over the past few months. Was hoping Seb was part of the solution but am so disillusioned by all this. My four fav T & F athletes of all time – Meb, Seb, Geb & Webb has been whittled down to a triumvirate.

  6. Bravo, Toni
    For as long as I can remember the sport has lacked true leadership. With no leadership everything goes to shit. Real leaders force change and that doesn’t sit well with the half steppers.

    We live in a world of all show and no go. The reason an unelectable Trump is running wild is because there isn’t anybody from either party who will change the status quo. Folks think he might?!!

    SebCoe was one of the greatest but I doubt he changes anything. I was standing 30 feet to the left of finish line at Bislett when your pic was taken.

    Things are slipping on all fronts. I am glad I am old.

  7. Come on, Toni…tell us what you really think! Well done and well past time someone speak truth to power.

  8. Toni,

    As always, well done. The funny thing is, I can see all this crap you’re making up!

    Like Rico said, you are probably the best person to rally the troops. I hope the appropriate people take heed.

    Happy New Year,

  9. One of the most difficult things for humans to do is to put aside our great admiration for someone (Coe) and cut through the bs to see the more important picture. Great job, Toni! It will take someone like you, rallying people like us, to affect any meaningful change. You have a core base of t&f fans behind you. Please keep it up, and help us understand how we can help. “We’re as mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take it anymore!” An Olympic year is the _best_ time to holler this!

  10. Toni,

    As always you are right on target!

    Happy New Year.


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