IAAF president Lord Coe has admitted he should have seen the warning signs before athletics became engulfed in a doping crisis.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Coe said he and his colleagues should have been "more alert" during the events which led up to Friday's decision to provisionally suspend Russia following revelations of systemic doping.
Coe was elected president of the IAAF in August after spending eight years as deputy to Lamine Diack, who is being investigated by French police on suspicion of having taken more than 1million euros in payments to cover up positive drugs tests.
Citing the Edmund Burke quote which says 'It is necessary only for good men to do nothing for evil to triumph', Coe wrote in the Telegraph: "It is an observation that stabs between the ribs, and something that I have thought about restlessly and incessantly over the past awful week for athletics."
He added: "The best way to protect clean athletes is to be unflinching in our commitment to them and not just in words
"We have to create structures that are always in their corner and here none of us come out very well, including my federation. The architecture of anti-doping has failed them."
In August, Coe had referred to claims about suspicious blood profiles involving some athletes as "a declaration of war on my sport".
But in his column, he recognised the role of a German television documentary in leading to the three investigations which exposed Russia's wrongdoing.
He said: "Could I, should I have inserted myself into the three independent investigations? Possibly. Should we all have been more alert and in tune with our natural instincts? Almost certainly.
"That is probably the toughest truth to face, but the sport must if we are to start our recovery. And the search for the answer will be my North Star."