MP warns Coe that IAAF must uphold 'probity'

LONDON • Britain's shadow sports minister, Mr Clive Efford, has written to Sebastian Coe asking the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president to clarify how senior figures in the organisation would have been able to allegedly extort money from Russian athletes in return for covering up positive drug tests and when he first knew about the situation.

The Labour MP has also asked Coe to explain in more depth the links between his marketing agency Chime Sports Media and the IAAF and warned him that athletics' governing body needs to ensure it upholds "the highest degree of probity and transparency".

Mr Efford's interjection comes days after Coe's right-hand man Nick Davies stood down as deputy general secretary of the IAAF, pending a review into his behaviour after he was accused of covering up Russian doping allegations.

Davies' decision followed a leaked e-mail that he wrote in July 2013 to Papa Massata Diack, a marketing executive at the IAAF, which also suggested he would "sit down to talk with the Anti-Doping Department and understand exactly who are the skeletons of Russians that are still in the cupboard, in relation to doping".

As Mr Efford's letter to Coe points out, "Mr Davies' e-mail suggests that other people at the IAAF would have to have been aware if such a complex strategy was to be implemented relating to Russian athletes who had tested positive. Can you state when you were first made aware of this situation?"

According to Mr Efford, the e-mail also appears to contradict Coe's testimony to Britain's Parliament that the IAAF's anti-doping unit was "hermetically sealed" from the rest of athletics' governing body.

The shadow sport secretary also notes with interest that Gabriel Dolle - the former chief of the IAAF anti-doping and one of the officials under investigation for alleged fraud and covering up positive blood tests - is mentioned in Davies' e-mail.

Although Davies has said the strategy that was set out in his e-mail to Diack was never implemented, Mr Efford notes that "the fact that he thought it was appropriate to even suggest this is surprising given his experience in public relations and media management".

Meanwhile, Germany's former athletics federation chief Helmut Digel said there have been only "small successes" in the international fight against doping in the sport.

"One has to say that the anti-doping fight, as organised by the IAAF until now, has failed," said the 71-year-old, a former IAAF vice-president. "Everyone knows that other nations (besides Russia) are in the pillory. There was a big doping problem in Turkish athletics and also doping problems in Ukraine and Belarus. In addition, Kenya is an old problem and needs a systematic investigation at last."

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 29, 2015, with the headline 'MP warns Coe that IAAF must uphold 'probity''. Print Edition | Subscribe