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.”