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Seb Coe: Track and field athletes need 6-7 weeks of specific training to return

Seb Coe discusses the perimeters that need to be in place for track and field to return to Olympic-level competition, from building athletes back up properly, to making sure the integrity of the event is preserved.

Seb Coe, president of track and field’s international governing body, believes athletes need between one and two months of event-specific training to return to competition from the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are some athletes that are still, absolutely, in lockdown -- can’t leave their homes and houses to train. It’s not just about can they do clever things on social media to show everybody that they’re doing their very best,” Coe told Sky Sports. “You can keep in shape, but it doesn’t account for the specificity of throwing a shot put or a javelin or figuring out stride patterns in hurdling. To get back into competition, you’re probably going to need six or seven weeks in that type of environment. It’s not just about keeping fit.”

Track and field’s premier circuit, the Diamond League, has postponed all meets through the first week of June. A meet in Oslo on June 11 has been restructured, without spectators, with a limited number of athletes (at least one racing solo, chasing a record) under Norway’s coronavirus regulations.

Coe, a four-time Olympic middle-distance medalist for Great Britain in the 1980s, also noted another factor in deciding when to return to full-on competition: anti-doping. Drug testing is not as comprehensive these days.

“We want to get them back where there’s no question about the integrity of the event,” Coe said. “That takes us on to making sure that we’ve got all our anti-doping processes in place, so that we’re not creating an unfair playing field for a few that choose, because some of the testing systems are not, inevitably, as robust as they were a few weeks ago. So all this and the typical updates that we’re getting from all our health and science advisers, it’s a complicated landscape.”

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