Coe 'did not know about bribes'

LONDON • IAAF president Sebastian Coe has denied knowing of "bribes being offered or received" in the awarding of the 2017 World Championships, a spokesman for the crisis-hit governing body said on Thursday.

Earlier this month, UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner said he had been told by International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) officials that representatives of the Qatar bid had given "brown envelopes" to members of the IAAF Council, which decided on the hosts.

He appeared before a British parliamentary committee on Tuesday but declined to identify who had told him about the alleged bribes, saying it would be inappropriate to do so before speaking to the IAAF's ethics commission.

On Thursday, Britain's Daily Mail reported that two witnesses linked to the London 2017 bid team had told the newspaper that ahead of the vote in Monaco in November 2011, they heard Coe warn UK Athletics officials of rumours of corruption by the Doha bid. That was immediately denied by an IAAF spokesman.

"Sebastian Coe had no actual knowledge of bribes being offered or received linked to the 2017 World Championships," the spokesman said.

"As he and Ed Warner discussed on (BBC Radio's) 5 Live Sportsweek, there was rumour piled upon rumour in the days leading up to the bid as is often the case on these occasions."

Coe was the IAAF vice-president at the time of the vote for the 2017 World Championships and led London's final presentation. The event was awarded to the British capital while Doha was handed the 2019 edition. Qatar has denied any wrongdoing in its bids for either event.

With the world governing body now scandal-ravaged, the organisers of next year's championships want to remove the IAAF's logo from all their branding and advertising to distance the event from the IAAF. They also want to call the event either the "World Athletics Championships" or the "London World Athletics Championships".

"The IAAF brand is completely toxic," an insider told The Times. "In the past, they have been very precious about having their logo in the right place and their name all over it. Now is the time to hide it."

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 30, 2016, with the headline 'Coe 'did not know about bribes''. Print Edition | Subscribe