- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

LONDON (AP) - Sergei Bubka released his campaign platform in his bid for the IAAF presidency on Wednesday, saying he would fight doping, find more big-money sponsors and bring modern technology into the sport to attract spectators and young people.

The Ukrainian pole vault great also said, if elected, he would hire a CEO, set up a business commission of marketing and broadcast experts and work with the IOC to protect track and field’s status as the No. 1 Olympic sport.

The 51-year-old Bubka, a former Olympic champion who set 35 world records, is competing against British middle-distance great Sebastian Coe to succeed Lamine Diack as president of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Diack is stepping down after serving as president since 1999. Bubka and Coe are both IAAF vice presidents. The election will be held on Aug. 18 at the IAAF congress in Beijing on the eve of the world championships.

Bubka issued his 29-page election program called “Vision 2025,” which he said represents “the most thorough review ever taken into every aspect of athletics worldwide.”

In a gesture toward modern technology, Bubka announced his plans in a Google Hangout session that was also broadcast live on YouTube.

Bubka’s program is not revolutionary and, in some cases, mirrors the ideas of Coe, who released his plans in December. Both men say engaging with youth is a key priority for the sport, which has struggled to attract young spectators.

In addition to developing athletics in schools, Bubka proposed greater use of digital technology to improve the spectator experience in the stadiums. He also cited a need for new competitions and formats, including regional, mixed-gender and street events.

Bubka said the IAAF should also study the format for the world championships, including whether its traditional nine-day schedule should be shortened or lengthened.

The presidential campaign comes against a backdrop of doping scandals, including allegations of organized drug use in Russia and accusations of cheating among Kenya’s acclaimed distance and marathon runners.

“What we need to achieve is a conviction by the athletes that clean competition is the only option for the future of our sport,” Bubka said in his manifesto. “Doping is a major threat to the sport we all love and we must fight this battle head-on to ensure our sport has a clean future.”

Bubka stressed the need to police the coaches, trainers, advisers and others who encourage athletes to dope.

Asked whether the IAAF should suspend Russia or other national federations with high numbers of doping cases, Bubka said it was an issue that requires “very deep study.”

Bubka, who serves on the executive board of the International Olympic Committee, said he would use his experience and influence to uphold his sport’s prestige and position in the games.

“The No. 1 Olympic sport is athletics,” he said. “Our position is very strong.”

The IOC recently adopted a new policy on the Olympic sports program, making it more flexible and allowing for new events and disciplines to come in. Asked whether the IAAF might have to cut some of its disciplines, Bubka held firm.

“I consider we have a universal program,” he said. “We should maintain our events and our disciplines in the Olympic program. I believe, in collaboration with the IOC, we will always protect the position and role of our sport.”

Bubka said the IAAF has a solid financial base through 2029 because of a deal with Japanese company Dentsu but needs to look for more commercial revenues.

He said he would look for sponsors for national federations as well as global sponsors for the IAAF, and create a business commission led by leaders of brands, marketing and media companies.

“We have to run our office as a business,” he said.

Bubka said he would hire a CEO to help run the day-to-day affairs of the Monaco-based IAAF. The new role would be in addition to the existing position of general secretary.


Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter: https://twitter.com/stevewilsonap

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