KEIR RADNEDGE in BUDAPEST: Sport and the sports media should give their “interwoven” relationship more tender loving care, according to World Athletics president Sebastian Coe.
He was addressing the annual congress of the international sports journalists’ association, AIPS, in Budapest.
Coe has been on a mission to clean up the image of the sport in which he ran to ?? Olympic gold medals after the years of scandal and controversy which will shortly see LAmine Diac, his long-term predecessor, on trial in France on corruption charges.
One item of that mission has led to the former IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) stand out from the sports crowd and confront Russia over the doping scandal saga. That stance may have cost Lord Coe membership of the International Olympic Committee even though his sport is the core of the summer Games.
Athletics is not the only high-profile sport to have endured embarrassing headlines over recent years.
Coe, linking the challenges of both sport and journalists, said: “Trust is the most valuable asset any organisation has. For the media, getting a story out first is becoming more important than getting the right story out there. Sport is losing a lot of trust, athletics both on the track and in the administration. This is why we have spent the last four years rebuilding that trust.
“Regaining trust in our sport has not been easy, it is a road we are still on. It has been at times impossible to tell our story, because in a time of crisis no one listens. Benefit of the doubt is out.
“The core of our reforms has been about integrity, raising the standard of conduct across the sport and having the powers and tools to investigate, discipline and sanction when those actions fall below what we expect.”
Coe then returned the delicate issue of sport and the media.
He said: “Our fortunes are interwoven. Sport is not going through anything the media is not going through. With so many global platforms and algorithms the fight for eyeballs and loyal readership is fierce.
“Media has less time to check facts, check sources and less words and space to tell that story.
“Sport and media are collaborators not competitors. I believe we have a duty to support each other. For sport to thrive we need to rebuild trust in each other and understand the pressures we each face, to understand our fans and your readers.
“Sport is important, more so now than ever, and we have a duty to make it more relevant in the lives of young people today.
“Our fortunes are entirely interwoven and we ignore this at our collective peril. I hope that is always the case but sport will dry up if it is not presented with integrity and balance.”