IAAF denies allegations against Sebastian Coe

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LONDON (AP) – The IAAF dismissed allegations Thursday that Sebastian Coe was aware of details of a Russian doping corruption case four months before it became public, or that he enlisted support for his presidential campaign from a key figure in the sport’s current doping scandal.

The BBC’s Panorama program and the Daily Mail reported the allegations against Coe, who is now IAAF president, a day before he chairs a meeting in Vienna to decide whether to uphold the ban on Russian track and field athletes.

The media reports said Coe received an email in August 2014 detailing allegations about Russian marathoner Liliya Shobukhova being extorted out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a positive doping test covered up so she could compete in the 2012 London Olympics.

Coe, who was a vice president of the IAAF at the time, received the email from London Marathon director Dave Bedford. The allegations became public four months later when they were aired in a documentary by German broadcaster ARD in December 2014.

The BBC and Daily Mail accused Coe of misleading a British parliamentary committee in December 2015 when he said “we were not aware – I was certainly not aware – of the specific allegations that has been made around the corruption of anti-doping processes in Russia.”

The IAAF said in a statement that Coe did receive an email from Bedford that included attachments related to an issue being investigated by the ethics commission.

“This was enough for Seb Coe to forward the email to the ethics commission,” the statement said. “He did not feel it was necessary to read the attachments. You may think this shows a lack of curiosity. He, and we, would argue that it shows a full duty of care. Ensuring the right people in the right place were aware of allegations and were investigating them.”

“Seb has never denied hearing rumors about corruption,” the IAAF added. “In fact he has said on many occasions that when alerted to rumors he asked people to pass them on to the ethics commission to be investigated.”

The BBC and Daily Mail also alleged that Coe won the IAAF presidency with the help of Papa Massata Diack, son of disgraced former IAAF President Lamine Diack. The elder Diack is being investigated by French prosecutors on corruption charges linked to cover-ups of Russian doping cases. His son, who worked as an IAAF marketing consultant, is also wanted in connection with the allegations.

The media outlets obtained text messages allegedly showing how Papa Massata Diack helped secure African votes for Coe, who defeated Ukraine’s Sergei Bubka 115-92 in last year’s election.

The younger Diack said he met Coe three times during the campaign.

“If he had not the blessing of Lamine Diack or my support, he would have never been elected as the IAAF president,” he told the BBC. “He knows that.”

The IAAF dismissed Diack’s claims.

“The suggestion that Seb Coe was actively seeking Papa Massata Diack’s advice about his campaign is wrong,” the statement said. “As with any campaign, lots of people offer advice – wanted or not, some helpful, some not. You try to be civil but wary.”

“This was the case with Mr. Diack,” the IAAF said. “He sent messages of support while at the same time supporting other candidates and accusing Seb Coe of leading a British media campaign against both him and his father.”

MORE: Russian athletes, state accused of obstructing drug tests

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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Lucas Braathen, world’s top male slalom skier, in doubt for world championships

Lucas Braathen
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Norway’s Lucas Braathen, the world’s top male slalom skier this season, is doubtful to compete in the world championships slalom on Feb. 19 after appendix surgery on Tuesday.

“It’s been a tough couple of days fighting after surprisingly finding out about quite an intense infection on my appendix,” Braathen, a 22-year-old soccer convert with a Brazilian mom, posted on social media. “I’ve been through surgery and I’m blessed that it went successfully.”

The Norway Alpine skiing team doctor said Braathen’s recovery will take a few weeks, but there is a small possibility he can make it back for the world championships slalom, which is on the final day of the two-week competition.

Braathen has two slalom wins and one giant slalom win this World Cup season. He will miss Saturday’s slalom in Chamonix, France, the last race before worlds. Countryman Henrik Kristoffersen and Swiss Daniel Yule can overtake him atop the World Cup slalom standings in Chamonix.

Braathen entered last year’s Olympics as the World Cup slalom leader and skied out in the first run at the Games.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

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