(Reuters) – Senegal’s Lamine Diack was overwhelmingly re-elected president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Wednesday, but vice president Sergei Bubka needed a controversial second vote to retain his position.
Bubka, the retired world pole vault record holder from Ukraine, had finished an out-of-the running fifth in the original vote by the governing body’s congress.
But officials said there had been a technical problem with the voting system and ordered a new vote by hand.
“We looked at each other and said ‘What is going on,’” said American Robert Hersh, who was re-elected a vice president along with 2012 London Olympics leader Sebastian Coe, Qatar’s Dahlan Al-Hamad with Canadian Abby Hoffman, the first-vote co-leader with Al-Hamad, fifth.
“I looked at that and instinctively thought that just looks …. it looks a bit of a rogue result,” Coe said of the first vote.
Bubka, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) member who is tipped along with Coe as leading candidates to succeed Diack in 2015, picked up 41 votes from the first ballot to the second, whose results came more than seven hours later.
The delegates also voted a second time for the unopposed Diack, but there was no controversy.
He received 173 yes votes of the 200 ballots cast in the first voting. The count was 169 yes and 29 no the second time around.
The four-year term will be the final one for the 78-year-old after serving as the federation’s top official since November 1999.
But whether he remains for the full term is open to speculation. Some believe he might become a candidate for the president of Senegal.
“There is no way I can be the president there and the president here,” Diack said of the decision he is still to make.
The former Dakar mayor came to power at the IAAF after the death of iron-fisted leader Primo Nebiolo.
He has seen the global decline of spectator interest in the sport because of issues like doping and the rise again through the performances of Jamaican world record holder Usain Bolt.
“We are told athletics is a failing discipline … but I do not believe so,” Diack said in opening remarks to the congress before his re-election.
Diack admitted there would be challenges and to assist him, the IAAF announced on Tuesday French administrator Essar Gabriel would join the organization as its new general secretary.
“I chose someone with every quality, every skill to do this job well,” Diack told reporters on Wednesday, adding he thought it was good to bring in fresh blood.
Gabriel is replacing the retiring Pierre Weiss.
Like many organizations, the IAAF also has been challenged by the global financial crisis, needing to cut $20 million in expenses for the three period beginning last year.