IAAF chief says Rogge showing "lack of respect" for athletics

International Olympic Committee (IOC)Monte Carlo - The head of the international athletics federation Friday accused International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge of showing "a lack of respect" for athletics.

Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), said he was surprised at Rogge's criticism of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt's celebrations after winning the 100 metres in world-record time at Beijing Olympics.

He also wanted to "take issue" with Rogge over an interview in which he said the 2012 Olympic stadium in London could be turned into an arena for other sports after the Games.

The Senegalese, who also sits on the IOC, is scheduled to meet Rogge in Lausanne, Switzerland on November 17.

In a statement he said he was looking forward to the opportunity of meeting Rogge "to remind him of the contribution that athletics has made" in the history of the Olympics and to the success of this summer's Beijing Games.

"Like many people, I was surprised, and said so at the time, to hear Mr Rogge imply that Usain Bolt was showboating and showing a lack of respect for his rivals after his phenomenal world record in the 100m final," he said.

"We live in a time when Olympic sports are struggling to remain attractive to young people, when we all need to make sport exciting and relevant to them.

"Since we need to create heroes that young people identify with, why criticize the behaviour of a young man who is instantly and completely appealing to young people?

"Usain's three gold medals and world records, in a sport where a world record does still mean something, and his exuberance and uninhibited pleasure in victory, helped Usain transcend sport and become, during the Games, a truly global icon and a genuine role model for youngsters who may not find Olympic sport that exciting."

Diack was also critical of a recent interview by Rogge with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in which he said the centrepiece stadium being planned in London for the 2012 Games could be transformed afterwards for other sports to avoid leaving "white elephants."

It is planned to convert the 85,000-seater stadium, which will also be the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies, into a 25,000-seater athletics arena after the Games.

Rogge has since told the BBC the stadium does not necessarily need an athletics legacy. He said something similar happened in Atlanta when the stadium after the 1996 Games was transformed to be used for baseball.

"As the leader of the world governing body for athletics I think this shows a lack of respect for my sport," Diack said.

Diack said he voted for London because one of the compelling arguments was that the city needed a world-class venue for athletics.

"A promise was made, and I believe it is totally reasonable to expect that the most important sport of the summer Olympics, which is athletics, gets to live on after the three week period of the Games is over," he said.

"Mr Rogge uses the example of Atlanta but for me, and the entire athletics family, the situation in Atlanta is a source of great disappointment.

"The fact that the site of magnificent athletics performances such as Carl Lewis' last Olympic long jump gold or Michael Johnson's amazing double at 200m and 400m is no longer able to host athletics - is no longer a source of pride or inspiration for young athletes - but is instead a bargain venue for professional baseball is nothing to be proud of at all.

"Today, believe it or not, the USA does not have a single venue capable of hosting an IAAF world championships in athletics."

Despite Olympics being held in Los Angeles and Atlanta, stadiums were handed over to other professional sports while "Olympic sports lose out," he added. (dpa)