IAAF president Seb Coe reportedly discussed Eugene's bidding for the 2021 IAAF World Championships with Nike officials, according to BBC's Mark Daly.
Coe has been an ambassador for Nike since his days as a competitive athlete. He has come under fire since assuming the role of IAAF president in August for not abandoning his links with the global sports apparel giant, which some view as a conflict of interest within the sport.
The IAAF council decided to bypass the usual bidding process and awarded the 2021 edition to Eugene, which came as a surprise to other bidding cities. A bidding process did not take place when Osaka, Japan was awarded the 2007 world championships.
Former IAAF President Lamine Diack, who was arrested by French authorities and being investigated for corruption, made the decision after listening to a pitch from the governor of Oregon, the U.S. Olympic Committee and NBC about the benefits of awarding the championships to the United States and broadcasting them live for a wider audience.
Coe says that he encouraged Eugene bid organizers to re-enter the process but did not lobby anyone on behalf of the Eugene 2021 bid, particularly Nike.
“I have long believed we should have a World Championship for Athletics in the USA given the strength and size of this market, and have had discussions with USA Track & Field, the USOC and cities and states in the USA many times,” Coe said in a statement, when asked about discussing the bid with Nike officials. “It is up to those organizations to put forward the proposal of a city, not me.”
In an internal Nike email, obtained by BCC, Craig Masback, director of business affairs for Nike's Global Sports Marketing tells TrackTown USA president Vin Lananna that he discussed Eugene's bidding for 2021 with Coe.
I spoke with Seb this morning” the email read. “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'.
Gothenburg, Sweden was among the cities looking to host the 2021 world championships. Bid organizers told The Sunday Times they were not given a fair and transparent process as promised by Diack and Coe.
The IAAF issued the following statement to the BBC:
“Much has been written about the unusual but not unprecedented way in which Eugene was awarded the 2021 World Championships. Seb believed, along with many other council members, that the usual process would be followed and encouraged Eugene to enter the bidding cycling for 2021 which would be decided in November 2016. He sought clarity from President Diack when asked by Gothenburg about the 2021 bidding process and received assurances that no decision would be made at the April Council meeting so he continued to encourage Gothenberg and Eugene to both put themselves forward for the 2021 bidding cycle.”
The University of Oregon's Hayward Field has hosted the last two U.S. Olympic Trials and will do so as well for this upcoming's 2016 Olympic team selection. Hayward Field will undergo renovations after the Olympic Trials to prepare for the world championships.
The IAAF awarded Portland, Ore. the 2016 IAAF World Indoor Championships, which will take place in March.
The IAAF is also being investigated for corruption regarding the alleged cover-up of several positive tests by athletes. Former WADA president Dick Pound will publish his findings later this year. In his first report, Pound and WADA recommended that the IAAF suspend Russia from international completion after various violations of anti-doping protocol.
- Christopher Chavez