Coe denies corruption in IAAF, says report

PARIS • Sebastian Coe was forced to defend the allocation of three World Championships and had to deny allegations of corruption in the bidding processes during an appearance at a French court last year, documents seen by Agence France-Presse have revealed.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president was interrogated in May last year over the governing body's decision to award the 2017 championships to London.

He also had to answer suspicions of bribes in the failed candidature of Qatar that year and the decision to award the recently concluded event to Doha.

The hearing also questioned him about the 2021 edition being awarded to Eugene, Oregon - the home of Nike and a company for which the Briton served as an ambassador - without the usual examining procedure.

That city has also attracted negative headlines as the home of the Oregon Project, an elite running programme sponsored by the sportswear giant and whose head, Alberto Salazar, was banned on Sept 30 for four years for doping infringements.

However, Coe pointed out that the event had never been held in the United States and "for our commercial health, we had to be in the American market".

On this year's host Qatar, he told two judges at France's National Financial Prosecutor's Office: "The Middle East was a booming market supported by a desire to globalise sport."

He also said he was unaware of two payments totalling US$3.5 million (S$4.8 million) from Oryx Qatar Sports Investments to Pamodzi Sports Consulting, which is owned by Papa Massata Diack, the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, as part of a failed attempt to land the 2017 world championships.

While prosecutors suggested "the benefits obtained from London were even more advantageous", Coe denied so, insisting the British capital had been chosen for its infrastructure.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2019, with the headline 'Coe denies corruption in IAAF, says report'. Print Edition | Subscribe