Sebastian Coe of Great Britain was elected as the sixth IAAF President at the 50th IAAF Congress in Beijing, China, on Wednesday, just three days before the IAAF World Championships kick off in China’s capital city.
Coe, who was serving as the organization’s vice president, beat out Sergey Bubka of the Ukraine, 115 to 92. Bubka was elected to succeed Coe—who takes over for Lamine Diack—as vice president.
“I am deeply honored that our sport has placed its trust in me,” Coe said in a release. “There is no job I want to do more – nor with greater commitment.”
Coe, a four-time Olympic medalist and former world-record holder, will take office on August 31 following the conclusion of the world championships. In addition to his role as vice president of the IAAF, he also served as chairman of the Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. His election comes at a dark time in track and field, as allegations of widespread doping and corruption amongst the sport’s governing bodies are running rampant. The World Anti-Doping Agency has recently launched an investigation into doping allegations following the leak of 12,000 blood tests from an IAAF database showing that 55 gold medalists and 150 medal winners in the distance events at the Olympics and World Championships from 2001-2012 had “suspicious” blood values.
Coe, took those allegations as “a declaration of war on my sport. I take pretty grave exception to that. This, for me, is a fairly seminal moment. There is nothing in our history of competence and integrity in drug testing that warrants this kind of attack. We should not be cowering. We should come out fighting.”
In other IAAF election news on Wednesday, USA Track & Field President Stephanie Hightower was elected to the IAAF Council. She was the highest vote-getter for one of the six seats designated to be filled by women. Hightower received 163 votes, easily exceeding the 105 votes needed in the first round of balloting. USATF’s Anne (Timmons) Phillips was elected chair of the IAAF Women’s Committee, Maryanne Daniel was the top vote-getter among five candidates for two women’s seats on the Race Walking Committee, Bill Roe won election to the Cross Country Committee and David Katz was re-elected to the IAAF Technical Committee.