IAAF president Sebastian Coe has hit out at the BBC, and presenter Gabby Logan in particular, for making "judgments" about poor crowds at the World Championships in Qatar.
The former double Olympic gold medallist said the sport was wrongly being portrayed by people in the BBC studio who may then “clear off back to Match of the Day”.
Poor crowds at the Khalifa International Stadium have been a major talking point, with the air, sea and land blockade on Qatar from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt partially blamed.
The countries have cut diplomatic and trade ties with Doha, claiming it was too close to Iran.
Former Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis also said on the BBC the IAAF had let athletes down by coming to Qatar but Coe wants critics to see the bigger picture.
“It’s very easy to sit there and make all sorts of Gabby Logan-type judgments over three or four days and clear off back to Match of the Day,” he said.
“But it’s really important that we see the long-term development of our sport. That’s not going to be done because we have challenges over ticketing in a stadium for three days.
“The problem I’ve got with that is it’s the way our sport is being portrayed by some of the people in that [BBC] studio.
“I’ve got people, whose judgment I do trust who are saying it would be great if a one minute 42.4 second run and some great performances were being dissected.
“It’s [the crowd] an easier subject to talk about rather than some of the more insightful stuff around the events. I accept that, that’s the world we live in.
“We’re not heading for home on this, we will go on making sure people realise wherever they are in the world this sport is theirs.
“There are places which are going to take longer for us to go to, but people have to believe this sport is theirs, it’s not just rooted in a handful of European capitals.”
The BBC declined to comment when contacted by the Press Association news agency.
Logan's fellow BBC presenter Gary Lineker leapt to her defence on Twitter, posting: "Picking the wrong target in GabbyLogan. She's just doing her job . . . brilliantly as always. Maybe look closer to home."
France's world champion decathlete Kevin Mayer has led athlete criticism of the championships and called the decision to host them in Qatar a disaster.
But Coe insisted athletes have been happy in Doha.
He said: “I get to the stadium an hour before the event, I sit with the medical teams, I sit with the coaches, I went to every one of the finalists from the 800m and chatted to them an hour-and-a-half before they needed to get into there.
“I was on the indoor, the outdoor track, they are not talking about that [the crowds].
“Can I just be a bit blunt about this, the athletes talking about externalities are probably not the ones who are going to be walking home with medals from here. Go figure.”