IAAF president Sebastian Coe called alleged bribery within athletics "abhorrent" yesterday after claims that predecessor Lamine Diack received more then 1 million ($1.65m) to cover up doping violations.

"That people in our sport have allegedly extorted money from athletes guilty of doping violations is abhorrent," said Coe in a statement.

It was the former double Olympic champion's first response to the sport's latest crisis. Coe, elected president in August, also denied that the governing body of athletics had been complacent in its handling of doping cases, as alleged by the Sunday Times and German broadcaster ARD.

Coe's comments came after French authorities this week placed former IAAF president Diack under formal investigation on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.

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The 82-year-old Senegalese is alleged to have received bribes in 2011 to cover up positive doping tests of Russian athletes, the office of France's financial prosecutor said. One of Diack's sons and three other officials, two who held IAAF positions, have also been charged with ethical violations by the governing body.

"That they were not able to cover up the doping results is testament to the system that the IAAF and WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] have jointly put in place," said Coe.

He promised stronger action by the IAAF during his administration.

"Where there are fragilities in the system that may have allowed extortion, no matter how unsuccessful, we will strengthen them," said Coe.

"And the independent integrity unit which I will establish next month will include an independent tribunal to hear all integrity-related violations committed by international level athletes and their support personnel.

"We will take the hearing process out of the hands of individual member federations."

Coe also struck back at critics who claimed the IAAF had not done enough to control doping.

"Every doping case currently being investigated by WADA was first identified by the IAAF through its athlete biological passport programme," he said. Reuters

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