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Doha championships best ever, insists Lord Coe

LORD COE delivered a clear message to critics of the world championships in Doha by claiming the scale of the sporting achievements over the last ten days have made it the best ever.

Crowds have been largely disappointing, although organisers claimed more than 40,000 watched Friday’s session.

However, just 7,266 fans were officially in the stands last Sunday for the women’s 100metres final — when Londoner Dina Asher-Smith claimed a silver medal behind Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce — a race run in front of a virtually empty stadium.

The event has also been overshadowed by the four-year ban handed to coach Alberto Salazar last week by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for doping violations.

But IAAF president Coe (pictured) believes the championships will ultimately be viewed as a success.

‘Our sport is in pretty good shape,’ he claimed. ‘It is pretty clear to us on athlete performance this is the best world championships we have ever had.

‘It is really important the sport moves around the world, and it cannot forge its relationships based on political structures or transitory political systems. That is why sport will continue to work and sweat as hard as it does to make social change.’

Coe also defended Holland’s Sifan Hassan, who followed her 10,000metres gold by winning the 1500m on Saturday. Although the 26-year-old was coached by Salazar, Coe again questioned whether it was fair to put athletes immediately under suspicion.

‘Sadly it is the world we live in,’ the 63-year-old said. ‘It is inevitable that outstanding performances, given the broader nature of trust, are permanently questioned.

‘I’m sure that when I was breaking three world records in 41 days back in 1979, there were people looking slightly askance at what I did.

‘I think we have to be quite careful about how we draw conclusions from the performance paradigm and shifts in that performance.’