IAAF president Sebastian Coe said on 14 March that first-time doping offenders should get lifetime bans and said that his natural instinct is to get the cheats out of sport for life.

Lord Coe was speaking at a World Anti-Doping Agency symposium in Lausanne on the back of a recent statement that five nations are in "critical care" because of doping concerns and one, Russia, is not fit to send anyone to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Russia's athletics federation was suspended from competition by the sport's governing body amid accusations of "state-sponsored" doping. Doping is also a hot topic in tennis, with Maria Sharapova's recent admission of taking meldonium and Rafa Nadal's claim he will sue a French former sports minister over accusations of steroid abuse.

Coe said: "This is a personal view: I actually favour life bans [for first time offenders]. I always have done. I don't believe any longer that we are in a world where there is any ambiguity about this. The code is not arcane maritime law. It isn't something we don't really understand. Athletes know that there is a real risk if they step outside the system and cheat and yes, of course, my natural instinct is to get the cheats out of sport for life."

"My job is to get as many clean athletes to an Olympic Games and nor is my job to be particularly concerned about the civil rights of the cheats. It is to protect at all times the clean athletes and they have to know that they have a president in a federation that is non-negotiable on that," said Coe, who is a former Olympic gold medallist who headed the organising committee for the London Olympics.

Coe, whose first year in office has involved a comprehensive shakeup of athletics to eradicate corruption and doping, believes that his sport is changing.

"These are never easy days, but I just felt that it was something I needed to be at, both as an internal signal to the sport and a broader public demonstration that we do take this seriously. We are going to change and the change will show that in a year's time our sport will look very, very different than how it looks today," Coe said.