Hoaxers target boss of world paralympic body

LONDON • The former head of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) suspects he was targeted by Russian hoaxers for the second time in a year on the day the country was banned from the Winter Olympics.

Philip Craven has warned other sporting administrators to be wary of impersonators after recordings of the Englishman's voice were used in a series of phone calls to various high-profile figures.

German journalist Hajo Seppelt, who played a key role in exposing systemic doping in Russia, answered a phone call on Tuesday by someone claiming to be Craven.

While the voice sounded familiar, Seppelt sensed something was amiss when "Craven" did not respond to his questions in the manner he would expect. He contacted IPC officials and gave them the British phone number that called him. Craig Spence, the IPC communications director, called the number and it was answered by an "eastern European voice".

He asked to speak to "Sir Philip" and was told he would call back in five minutes. Spence immediately phoned back and the call first went to a Russian voicemail message.

But, five minutes later, with Craven sitting alongside Spence in a meeting room at the IPC's headquarters in Bonn, Germany, the number called back and "Craven" started to ask Spence questions.

Craven suspects the questions had been spliced together from recordings of his speeches.

Spence said: "This highlights the lengths people are willing to go to in an attempt to trip up sports administrators in the current period. We told the IOC about it because someone could be attempting to impersonate Thomas Bach."

Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, banned Russia from participating at the Pyeongchang Games, ruling that clean athletes from the country could only compete as neutrals.

The IPC passed on the details of the most recent hoax call to both the IOC and the German police.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2017, with the headline 'Hoaxers target boss of world paralympic body'. Print Edition | Subscribe