International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe has denied claims that he lobbied his predecessor, Lamine Diack, over the award of hosting rights for the governing body’s 2021 World Championships.
UK public-service broadcaster the BBC revealed emails that suggested that Coe “reached out” to Diack with his support of Eugene, US. Eugene in Oregon is closely associated with Nike, and Coe is an ambassador for the sportswear giant.
Eugene, which missed out on hosting the 2019 edition, secured the 2021 event without a bidding process, even though the Swedish city of Gothenburg was interested in staging the championships.
Coe told the BBC that he “did not lobby anyone” concerning Eugene's bid, but “encouraged [Eugene] to re-enter another bidding cycle as they had a strong bid.” Coe said that his interests were declared to the IAAF's ethics committee and that his views on all the bids for the 2019 championships and Eugene's 2021 bid “are all a matter of public record.”
In the email dated January 30 this year to Track Town USA’s Vin Lananna and Robert Fasulo, Craig Masback, director of business affairs for Nike's Global Sports Marketing division, stated: “I spoke with Seb this morning. We covered several topics but I asked specifically about 2021… He made clear his support for 2021 in Eugene but made equally clear he had reached out to Diack specifically on this topic and got a clear statement from Diack that 'I am not going to take any action at the April meeting (in Beijing) to choose a 2021 site'.”
At the IAAF meeting in Beijing, Diack announced a surprise vote on whether to bypass a normal bidding process for the 2021 event and award the hosting rights to Eugene. Several IAAF council members have told the BBC that Diack made clear his support for Eugene, and urged his fellow members to follow suit. The secret vote was carried by 23-1, with one abstention, the report added.
Bjorn Eriksson, the former head of Interpol who was leader of the Gothenburg bid at the time, added that the allegations required “an explanation.” He added: “The idea we don't even get the chance to deliver an offer, we don't get the chance to be judged. That makes me still furious.”