IAAF Ethics Board ends probe into Qatari bribery allegations

The Ethics Board of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has decided against opening a formal investigation into claims Qatari officials had been paying bribes in a bid to secure hosting rights for the 2017 World Championships, supporting the stance of president Sebastian Coe on the matter.

Ed Warner, chairman of the UK Athletics governing body, said an investigation was underway during a British parliamentary committee hearing regarding the athletics doping scandal, which was held in January.

Doha lost out in the race to stage the 2017 Championships, which were awarded to London, but the Qatari capital was subsequently successful in securing the hosting rights to the 2019 edition of the IAAF’s showpiece event after defeating rival bids from Barcelona and Eugene in November 2014.

During the hearing, Warner was asked about a claim in a recent BBC radio interview that he had been told “brown envelopes” containing cash were given to IAAF council members by Qatari delegates ahead of the vote in 2011 for the 2017 event. At the time, Warner said he was “not prepared to say” who had told him about the alleged bribery and that he was not willing to elaborate further until more details of corruption within the IAAF under the leadership of former president Lamine Diack was revealed.

Warner later told the Ethics Board that the senior person who informed him of the Qatari actions was Coe (pictured), who at the time was an IAAF vice-president and head of the local organising committee for London’s 2012 Olympic Games. A statement issued by the Ethics Board today (Monday) said that Coe had told the board that he had “no recollection of hearing such a rumour or therefore of communicating it to Mr Warner”.

The Board said it contacted four witnesses and all members of the IAAF Council at the time, none of whom supported Warner's claim. It added that the purposes of its preliminary investigation was to determine if there was sufficient evidence to establish that cash payments may have been made with improper intent or to have influenced the integrity of the award decision for the 2017 World Championships.

The statement read: “The Ethics Board could not make such determination simply on the basis of any rumours that may have been circulating in or about November 2011 and nothing more. As a result of its preliminary investigations, and noting that there is no documentary evidence to corroborate Mr Warner's recollection, the Ethics Board does not consider that it has sufficient evidence at present to open, under its procedural rules, a formal investigation.”

However, the Ethics Board added: “The Ethics Board will review the matter should further evidence come to its attention, and in the light of any material developments including those in the active criminal investigations which continue in a number of jurisdictions in respect of potential corruption by former IAAF office holders and/or agents.”