Athletics Ireland CEO on the "not unconditional" backing for Seb Coe to lead reforms

Off The Ball speak to John Foley about future of sport amid major doping scandal

John Foley, Athletics Ireland

John Foley, CEO of Athletics Ireland ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

As the World Anti-Doping Agency put athletics' world governing body in the spotlight yesterday, Athletics Ireland released a statement in which they called for Russia to be excluded from this summer's Olympics while they deal with their doping scandal with global implications.

While emphasising that it was "too early" for Russia to be considered, Athletics Ireland CEO John Foley also echoed World Anti-Doping agency report author Dick Pound in backing embattled IAAF president Sebastian Coe to lead reforms.

Tonight, Foley was on Off The Ball to explain his points and why he believes Coe should remain part of the future.

"I will say, and I am looking I suppose for the leadership Dick Pound has shown where he has, despite all the issues there, he feels that Coe is the right man to take the sport forward. I suppose you could argue, should we tear it all up? Should we just say 'let's just start over again' and that is something in my view is no. I would say that in the context that Coe has shown leadership on the London games and actually knows our sport very well," said Foley who described the revelations in the report as "alarming" and described yesterday as a "dark day" for the sport. 

"Let's say you tear it up, then you have a situation where there is a vacuum in the sport for a long period of time."

But Foley says the backing is "not unconditional" and that Coe needs to "move quickly". 

He also admitted that it was "regrettable" that Coe did not resign his ambassador role with Nike without delay amid question marks over whether holding the position simultaneous to being IAAF president represented a conflict of interest. 

With revelations about the standards of anti-doping regimes in some countries, Foley admits that does lead to a level of scepticism.

"Well I am sceptical on performances of particular countries," he told Ger, adding that countries under the microscope like Kenya "have to be investigated" ahead of the Rio Olympics. 

On Russia, he said it was his view that there was "no way that they can redeem themselves in the period of time between now and August. It's just not possible".