Athletics: Europe boss wants Fredericks to quit over payment probe

Svein Arne Hansen, the head of European Athletics, wants former Olympic sprinter Frankie Fredericks (left) to step down from the IAAF council over an allegation that he received a payment before Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Games.
Svein Arne Hansen, the head of European Athletics, wants former Olympic sprinter Frankie Fredericks (left) to step down from the IAAF council over an allegation that he received a payment before Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Games.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERLIN • The head of European Athletics has called on Frankie Fredericks to step down from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council pending an investigation into allegations he accepted payments before the awarding of the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.

A statement issued yesterday by Svein Arne Hansen, who does not name Fredericks but clearly refers to his case, comes a day after IAAF president Sebastian Coe said the Namibian would stay on athletics' world governing body's council while the ethics board decides if an investigation is necessary.

"In recent weeks the IAAF council has been confronted with new and disturbing integrity-linked accusations related to one of its members," Hansen said in his statement on Wednesday.

"In my personal opinion, any individuals who find themselves under such suspicion now or in the future should step aside from all their sport-related duties until the issue is resolved as it is not good for the organisation they serve."

As well as being in charge of European Athletics, Hansen, like Fredericks, is an IAAF council member.

"I want to emphasise that in the current case we are dealing with allegations and must always presume innocence until they are proven," added the Norwegian.

"However, should the allegations turn out to be true, they would reveal an extremely disappointing betrayal of athletics and its values, which would damage the sport's image in the eyes of its supporters and the public."

Former sprinter Fredericks, an International Olympic Committee member, stepped down two weeks ago as head of the IOC team evaluating bids to host the 2024 Games and has also removed himself from the IAAF taskforce looking into the issue of state-sponsored doping in Russia.

French newspaper Le Monde had reported that Fredericks, 49, received almost US$300,000 (S$419,652) from Papa Massata Diack, the son of disgraced former IAAF President Lamine Diack, prior to the election of Rio as the 2016 Olympics hosts back in 2009.

Fredericks, a four-time Olympic silver medallist, has said he received the money but denied any wrongdoing. The former 200m world champion said it was for "services rendered" to promote the sport in Africa and that he had nothing to do with the Rio vote.

The IOC has also launched an investigation into the matter.

French prosecutors are investigating whether bribery was involved in the awarding of the 2021 world athletics championships to the US city of Eugene and are also looking into several other host city decisions.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'Europe boss wants Fredericks to quit over payment probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe