THE BLOG

The Lessons We Must Learn From the IAAF and Fifa Scandals

09/11/2015 13:23 GMT | Updated 09/11/2016 10:12 GMT

The crisis in world athletics couldn't be greater. Whilst it may not yet have reached the scale of the corruption scandal at Fifa, the most serious charges that have been made are in many ways even worse than those that have been levelled at Sepp Blatter and other senior football executives. The allegation that the former President of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, may have received bribes in return for allowing drugs cheats to compete, by suppressing their test results, is chilling

The crisis that has now engulfed the IAAF shares many of the characteristics of the crisis at Fifa. Again we see allegations that another group of old men of considerable power and standing within their sport, have exploited the lack of independent governance and scrutiny within their organisation, to make money out of cheating.

The lessons that have to be learnt from Fifa and the IAAF, are that you cannot allow people to exercise over many years complete commercial and regulatory power over their sport and organisation, without any real independent scrutiny. The huge challenge faced by the IAAF's new President, Lord Coe, is to show that he understands this problem, and that he will ensure there is a new system of independent governance and crucially, that the powers to investigate, report on, and oversee drugs testing regimes, will be fully carried out by an independent body; similar to the reforms made in world cycling following the Lance Armstrong scandal.

The IAAF also needs to widen the investigation into drugs cheating. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), was given a specific remit to investigate the allegations of cheating first broadcast last year by the German television station, ARD, and further reported on by the Sunday Times. These reports suggested that between 2001 to 2012, 55 gold medals won at the Olympic Games and athletics World Championships, were by athletes with "suspicious" anti-doping test results. There now needs to be a full independent inquiry into the allegations of corruption at the IAAF, so we can see who knew what and when. Those guilty of wrongdoing, or who turned a blind eye to evidence of it, have to be removed from the organisation, and should face the appropriate criminal charges. An independent reform commission is just as necessary for the IAAF as it is for Fifa.

The stench of corruption that is engulfing world sport is something that governments also have to respond to. The full force of the criminal law should be used against wrongdoers. That is clear in cases of fraud, money laundering and racketeering; as many Fifa officials have discovered this year. It should also apply to cheating using performance enhancing drugs. Athletes who seek to win medals and lucrative sponsorship contracts on the back of cheating using drugs are committing a fraud against other competitors. Those people who seek to defraud their opponents in this, and those who work to support them, should face criminal sanctions. We should introduce a new law in the UK to make the use and supply of performance enhancing drugs a criminal offence, as has already been carried out in countries like France and Australia. The sanction against drugs cheating shouldn't just be sporting, and should be felt by all those involved in the wrongdoing.

Damian Collins is the Conservative MP for Folkestone, and co-founder of New Fifa Now