Athletics: IAAF ethics board to probe bids for 2017, 2019 world championships

The IAAF's ethics committee will investigate the bidding for the 2017 and 2019 world athletics championships.
The IAAF's ethics committee will investigate the bidding for the 2017 and 2019 world athletics championships. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (REUTERS) - The International Association of Athletics Federations' ethics committee is to investigate the bidding for the 2017 and 2019 world athletics championships after accusations of possible corruption, the head of the sport in Britain told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

The 2017 event will be held in London and the 2019 in Doha, which lost out to London for the 2017 event.

UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner was appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee as part of its wider investigation into blood doping in sport.

The doping scandal involving Russian athletes came to light in a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

Former IAAF head Lamine Diack, who stepped down as president last August, faces criminal corruption charges in France over allegations he extorted money from athletes to cover up the issue.

Warner told the committee on Tuesday: "I have had a number of discussions with the IAAF and they have told me the 2017 and 2019 bids by Doha have been referred to their ethics commission."

He declined to identify who had told him, saying it would be inappropriate to do so before speaking to the ethics commission.

Earlier this month, Warner said he had been told by IAAF officials that representatives of the Qatar bid had been giving "brown envelopes" to members of the IAAF Council, which decided on the host.

The London bid by UK Athletics agreed to pay US$7.2 million (S$10.28 million) to cover prize money, matching the offer Doha made, and Warner said he felt this cost might not have been incurred if they had not feared their bidding rivals were seeking to gain a voting advantage through underhand means.

Earlier this month, the second part of an independent commission report for Wada also cast doubt on the bidding process for all world championships since 2009.

"The process by which those decisions were made, who made them, why did they make them and why did other cities not get selected, needs to be investigated," said Richard McLaren, a co-author of the report.

Qatar has denied any wrongdoing in its bids for either championship and an IAAF spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that, on the request of the Qatari federation, IAAF president Sebastian Coe had referred the 2017 bidding process to the ethics commission, currently being rebranded as the ethics board.

The award of the 2022 football World Cup to the Gulf state is also under investigation by Swiss authorities.

The IAAF was unable to say whether the board was investigating the 2019 event, or 2021, which was awarded to Eugene, Oregon, in the United States without a formal bidding process.

Eugene has close links to sportswear firm Nike.

At the time of the award, Coe was acting as a paid ambassador for Nike while also an IAAF vice-president. He has denied there was a conflict of interest but has relinquished his Nike role.

In the latest blow to the IAAF's standing, sportswear firm adidas AG, its biggest sponsor, is to end its deal four years early as result of the doping and corruption scandals, the BBC reported.