Sebastian Coe vows Enhanced Games athletes would be ‘banned for long time’

    The World Athletics president, ­Sebastian Coe, has hit out at plans for an Enhanced Games, that would allow athletes to take steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, and warned that anyone who competes will be banned for a long time.

    Organisers of the Enhanced Games, which has been backed by venture capitalists including the billionaire Peter Thiel, have called their event “the Olympics of the future”. It will include athletics, swimming, weightlifting, gymnastics and combat sports.

    Earlier this month the former swimming champion, James Magnussen, agreed to come out of retirement to compete in the Games and attempt to swim faster than the 50m freestyle record for a prize of $1m (£790,000).

    However, at a press conference for the world indoor championships in Glasgow, Lord Coe was withering when asked for his thoughts.

    “It’s bollocks isn’t it?” he said. “I can’t really get excited about it. There’s only one message, and that is if anybody is moronic enough to officially take part in it, and they are in the traditional part of our sport, they’ll get banned for a long time. But I really don’t get sleepless nights about it.”

    His message was supported by the men’s 800m world record-holder, David Rudisha, who said: “The integrity of the sport needs to be protected at all times. This is not a good thing and just brings a lot of confusion to people and sponsors.”

    Coe also promised that World Athletics would not be deterred from trialling new proposals in the long jump and other events, despite the negative reaction to a “take-off zone” instead of the traditional wooden board.

    “Our sport is 150 years old and there are elements of it that you absolutely want to protect,” he said. “They are sacrosanct. But there is stuff there that just leaves people a little cold. And 31% of all long jumpers are failing attempts. Now, I’m not saying that the take-off zone is the only remedy and it’s one of a raft of changes.”

    Coe said that World Athletics knew that from detailed research from the world championships in Budapest last summer, which found that people left their seats during some events, or stopped watching the event on TV.

    “We’re not going to back off innovation here,” he said. “It is really important. We have a responsibility to futureproof the sport, to continue to create the landscape financially.

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    “We have had meetings with world-class businesses in the last few weeks. And world-class ­businesses do not routinely want to join ­enterprises they think are going in the wrong direction.”

    He added: “We can’t just sit there. The holy grail of every sport is to remain salient, interesting, and exciting to young people.

    “We’re not going to frame the sport entirely around them. But we have to admit that the way people consume sport, the way they consume entertainment is different than it was even three years ago. And we have to move with the times.”

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