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  • Sunday, August 29, 1999

    Nebiolo says Paris, London, Tokyo, Berlin to stage worlds

     SEVILLE, Spain (AP) -- Paris, London, Tokyo and Berlin have been lined up to stage the World Championships from 2003-2009, the president of the International Amateur Athletic Federation said Sunday.
     In addition, IAAF chief Primo Nebiolo said London would be added to the sport's elite "Golden League" circuit next year and Doha, Qatar, might hold the 2000 Grand Prix final.
     Speaking to reporters on the closing day of the Seville World Championships, Nebiolo said the biennial event would be held in Paris in 2003, London in 2005, Tokyo in 2007 and Berlin in 2009.
     "We have a project to award four world championships through 2009," he said. "The cities have accepted those dates."
     Nebiolo said plans would be finalized next year as part of a package deal involving television rights and sponsorships.
     The next world championships, in 2001, will be held in Edmonton, Alberta. The site was selected last year.
     Previous championships have been held in Helsinki (1983), Rome (1987), Tokyo (1991), Stuttgart, Germany (1993); Goteborg, Sweden (1995); and Athens, Greece (1997).
     Nebiolo said the Golden League, a lucrative, seven-meet series in Europe, would be expanded next year to include London. The event would be held at Crystal Palace, which hosted a Grand Prix meet earlier this month.
     "London is London," Nebiolo said. "Now they don't have the appropriate stadium. But we are confident Crystal Palace can be good for the first meeting."
     Nebiolo said subsequent Golden League meets and the 2005 worlds should be held at Wembley Stadium, which is scheduled to be torn down later this year and renovated into a state-of-the-art multi-purpose venue.
     "The dream is to eventually have 10 Golden League meets -- eight in Europe, one in the United States and one in Tokyo," Nebiolo said.
     The current seven Golden League venues are Rome, Oslo, Norway; Brussels, Belgium; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Paris; Zurich and Berlin.
     Nebiolo said the IAAF's season-ending Grand Prix final probably will be staged in Doha next year, immediately following the Sydney Olympics.
     "We will bring all the athletes by special charter," he said.
     Meanwhile, Nebiolo hailed the Seville championships as the "greatest sporting event of this century's end."
     He cited outstanding performances on the track, including Michael Johnson's world record of 43.18 seconds in the 400 meters; Maurice Greene's 9.80 (second fastest time ever) in the 100; Marion Jones' 10.70 in the women's 100, and Hicham El Guerrouj's 1,500-meter victory in 3:37.65.
     Despite the high temperatures and poor turnout on the opening weekend, Nebiolo said the championships had attracted "great crowds" of more than 400,000 at the Estadio Olimpico through the first eight days.
     Nebiolo also pointed to strong television ratings, projecting a cumulative global audience of more than 4 billion viewers.
     Nebiolo cited particularly high viewership in Spain, Germany, France and Italy, and also noted that NBC's live coverage in the United States last weekend drew a 6-7 percent share, equivalent to more than 15 million viewers.
     While the sport continues to struggle in the United States, Nebiolo said things were improving.
     "The state of athletics in the United States is in a different state from two years ago," he said. "The IAAF has helped the national federation. The U.S. has changed its leaders and its leadership and now things are going differently. Things are still not what we wish, but we believe (federation leaders) are strongly increasing the popularity of athletics in the United States."
     Nebiolo also said the IAAF has no plans to introduce blood tests for detecting performance-enhancing drugs, despite calls from many leading athletes for the procedure to be implemented.
     "Our medical commission has (studied) this testing," he said. "But they are convinced these tests are not necessary and cannot give different results from the tests we are carrying out now."
     The International Olympic Committee said last week it will carry out some form of blood testing at the Sydney Olympics, either on a voluntary basis for research or, if a reliable test is found, as part of the official doping controls.
     "We are completely autonomous and independent from the IOC," Nebiolo said. "What the IOC is doing is up to them. But it is not compulsory for us to follow what the IOC is doing."



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