BEIJING (AP) — After months campaigning, Sebastian Coe and Sergei Bubka face an election Wednesday knowing that the new IAAF president will need to go straight to work to convince the public that track and field's governing body can properly tackle the scourge of doping.
The election in Beijing in the days leading up to the world championships has been set against a backdrop of intense criticism of the IAAF following media reports that it has failed to act on evidence of widespread blood doping.
Coe has long campaigned for increasing the resources "in the battle for our sport's integrity," saying an external, fully independent anti-doping tribunal is a must.
"We also need to dramatically close the gap between a positive test and the relevant sanction," the British running great said. "We must also invest significantly to ensure other ethical concerns such as gambling, and the complex issue of changes of nationality of athletes and age cheating are properly considered and resolved."
Coe also has promised to give the newly created IAAF Ethics Commission all the tools necessary to make it the leading Olympic federation "in terms of integrity."
Bubka believes the anti-doping system is too complex and "needs to be simplified to become faster and more efficient."
"It is clear that we need more people working at the IAAF to tackle the biggest challenge our sport faces — identifying doping cheats and protecting clean athletes," the Ukrainian said. "This is a battle we can't afford to lose."
The IAAF Ethics Commission will meet in Beijing with the biggest item on its agenda being the fallout from the allegations from German broadcaster ARD and Britain's The Sunday Times newspaper, which citied leaked test results from an IAAF database and asserted that blood doping was rampant in the sport.
The IAAF last week denied it had tried to block publication of the study, and confirmed that 28 athletes had been caught in retests of their doping samples from the 2005 and 2007 world championships but said none of the athletes will be competing in this year's competition, which start Saturday.
The election to decide who will replace Lamine Diack as IAAF president will be held by electronic ballot among the 214 member federations on Wednesday.
Both candidates have focused on ways to engage youth, revamping the competition calendar and format for meets as well as extra funding for development at the national federation level.
"Following many months of traveling and consulting with the member federations I believe more than ever that by working together with a focus on innovation and engagement we can create a new and exciting golden era for athletics," Coe said in one of his final pitches in Beijing this week.
Coe is only running for the top job, while Bubka has been nominated again as vice president as well.
The 58-year-old Coe, a two-time Olympic 1,500-meter gold medalist, politician and instrumental figure in helping London win the bid for and then stage the 2012 Olympics, is considered the favorite, but Bubka got some heavyweight backing this week.
Ukraine boxer-turned-politician Vitali Klitschko described the 51-year-old pole vault great as "an icon for the sport of athletics" and said he "has an incredibly powerful positive impact on the world of athletics and he is using this power to change it for the better. For me, Sergei Bubka is already a President, he is MY President."