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Coe warns drug cheats during coronavirus pandemic

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World athletics president Sebastian Coe has warned any athletes tempted to use doping substances during the coronavirus pandemic that “they will get caught”. © AFP/File / FABRICE COFFRINI

BERLIN, Germany, Apr 24 World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has warned any athletes tempted to use doping substances during the coronavirus pandemic, when drugs testing is proving more difficult, that they “will get caught”.

“Clearly, because of lockdown, curfews and international travel restrictions, (drugs) testing has been more difficult,” Coe, 63, told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

“But nobody should run away with the idea that there is no testing taking place at all. It is.

“I want to send a very clear message to the athletes: do not sit there thinking that this is a test-free zone. It isn’t.

“If you choose to step outside the integrity of our sport, you will get caught.”

The 2020 athletics calender has been decimated by the coronavirus with the Tokyo Olympics, the season’s highlight, postponed until 2021.

On Thursday, the European athletics championships, scheduled to be held in Paris this August, was cancelled.

So far eight major athletics meets have been cancelled or postponed this season with no revised dates yet announced.

Coe said the global pandemic will have financial consequences for athletes and hopes competitions can still take place in 2020.

“It’s not just about not having competitions – (athletes) have their own personal contracts and sponsorships,” said the former middle-distance runner.

“There are broadcast issues as well – if there are no competitions, there’s no prize money, so the first objective is to try and get competitions” going again.

“I am genuinely hoping that we can get athletes back into training later this year.

“Many (athletes) have maintained good conditioning, training in their houses, on balconies, in hotel corridors, in streets.

“Of course, not being able to run outside your front door is a big challenge.

“We want to get them back into competition as quickly as we can, but as safely as we can do it.”

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