UK track chief: Qatar handed out envelopes

The logo at the the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) headquarters in Monaco, Jan 14, 2016.
The logo at the the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) headquarters in Monaco, Jan 14, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics (UKA), has revealed that a senior International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) official warned him that Qatari officials were handing out brown envelopes on the eve of the vote for the 2017 World Championships.

London won the rights to host the event ahead of Doha after UKA agreed to stump up a sum of US$7.2 million (S$10.4 million) to cover prize money, but Warner wants an investigation into the bidding process to see whether its money can be recovered.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek, he said on Sunday: "The night before the bid, a very senior person in the IAAF hierarchy told me and my bid team that they understood certain members of the IAAF Council were being called upstairs one by one to a hotel suite to be given a brown envelope.

"It was quite shocking to hear it and my message to our bid team was, 'Just ignore that. We are London, we do it the British way. Let's focus on our lobbying.'

"It seemed incredible to me at the time and so I dismissed it but subsequently we have heard that Papa Diack, (arrested former IAAF president) Lamine Diack's son, apparently was asking for US$5 million from Qatar to support their bid."

A CLEAN BID?

I hope it was, for the sake of the IAAF and for athletics, but if it wasn't, then there needs to be some recompense.

ED WARNER, UK Athletics chairman, on whether the bid for the 2017 World Championships hosting rights was fair.

The new IAAF president, Sebastian Coe, has promised to investigate the claims of bribery in the bidding process, but Warner believes that, if the process was fair, the London bid might have saved itself US$7.2 million.

Warner said: "Very specifically, on the morning of the bid, council members of the IAAF and senior people at the IAAF were telling us that we were behind, and we were behind because the Qataris had promised to pay the fund US$7.2 million for the athlete prize money which otherwise the IAAF itself would have to pay.

"They were saying to us, 'Look, you have got to match that offer.' We had the room within our budget. It was something we had up our sleeve.

"We were wondering whether to play that card. We played it, we won and we are told it was a decisive swing factor.

"I look back at it now and I think, 'Did I have to make that money available? Have I had to spend US$7.2 million?'

"But if I was up against a bid that in any way, shape or form wasn't straight, then really I should have that money back, so I welcome any investigation into all the bidding processes because I would love to believe it was a level playing field.

"I hope it was, for the sake of the IAAF and for athletics, but if it wasn't, then there needs to be some recompense."

Last week, Warner, also the chairman of the London 2017 organising committee, insisted their bid had nothing to hide amid the IAAF scandal being investigated by French prosecutors. Lamine Diack has been questioned by those investigators, who also want to talk to his son, Papa.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2016, with the headline 'UK track chief: Qatar handed out envelopes'. Print Edition | Subscribe