Athletics: Reputation will not protect athletes from doping ban, says Coe

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World Athletics President Sebastian Coe wearing a protective face mask speaks to media as he inspects the National Stadium, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo

(Reuters) - World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said reputation will not protect the sport's high-profile athletes from doping raps and warned that it would be harder than ever to get away with taking banned substances at next year's Tokyo Olympics.

A host of top athletes, including world 100 metres champion Christian Coleman, have been sanctioned by the Athletics Integrity Unit in recent years as it looks to restore integrity in a sport plagued by doping scandals.

"I like to think that it has shown the athletes that we're not fearful of reputation. Where there is an infraction we're not fearful of going: 'Oh well that's quite a big name,'" Coe, who won double Olympic gold over 1,500 metres, told British media.

"The AIU is not always going to be on everybody's Christmas card list... but I do think that it has restored some confidence that we've got an organisation that will fearlessly and ruthlessly weed out the cheats."

Coe said improvements in testing would make it harder than ever for athletes to avoid being caught.

"What I can say is if they do cheat, there is a greater chance of them being caught in Tokyo than probably any previous Games," he added.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)