IAAF President Seb Coe faced Parliament on doping, corruption
IAAF President Seb Coe met with British Parliament for three hours to discuss an inquiry into the world track and field governing body's stance on anti-doping as well as corruption allegations.
The two-time Olympic champion said that he is the right man to lead track and field out of its problems with doping and cover-ups within the sport. Coe was elected president of the IAAF in August after having served as vice president to Lamine Diack since 2007. After his days as a competitive athletes, Coe found success as a businessman and assisted in the bidding process to deliver the 2012 Sumer Olympic Games to London.
Coe came under fire for his ties with Nike, who he was under contract with as an ambassador for over 30 years, while serving the first few months of his presidency. He has since severed his contract with the sports apparel giant.
Coe and the IAAF will likely be mentioned in an upcoming report by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The first report by former WADA president Dick Pound released the findings of an Independent Committee’s review into performance enhancing doping in Russian sports and recommended that the IOC ban the country from international competition, while also banning five coaches and five athletes. The IAAF acted by suspending Russia from international competition a few days later.
Here are a few notes from Coe's meeting:
• Coe said that there was always suspicion of performance enhancing drugs being used by competitiors, but assured the British national team was clean. “My father would have killed anyone who told me to take anything that was performance enhancing,” Coe said. “That is the vast majority of athletes live in and are comfortable with.”
• Coe on whether Russian track and field athletes have ever been clean: "I don't know."
• Coe on meeting with German journalist Hajos Seppelt, who released several documentaries revealing the extent of systemic doping in Russia and Kenya: “I did say on record that ARD brought to the attention of the sport of those particular challenges. And I remind you that early on the IAAF had confirmed its ethics committee was underway and Wada then set up its ethics commission.” Coe denied slamming his phone on Seppelt.
• Coe noted that he has not met with members of the Russian Athletics Federation as he waits for their criteria on what to improve upon comes into place.
• Coe reassured his stance against the publishing of athlete's blood data to analyze off-scores for signs of doping: “No, because, again, this information is confidential to the athletes.”
• Coe's response when asked whether the IAAF is corrupt: “No, it is not. I don’t believe the organization is corrupt.
• Coe on the IAAF's investigation for corruption: “This is a very serious set of allegations but this is the subject of a criminal investigation. So I am not in a position to add anything to this.”
• Coe's reaction to the arrest of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, who was arrested by French authorities last month and placed under investigation: "Shock suffused with sorrow and anger," Coe said.
• Coe said that he has never been offered a bribe and said he does not know of anyone who has been offered a bribe.
• Coe said that he has never heard any rumblings of corruption by Diack and never asked about his son Papa Massata Diack, who is also being investigated for accepting a bribe.
• Coe, who abandoned his ties with Nike, says that he would have cut his sponsorship with the sports apparel giant if he knew it would cause as much cotroversey as it did from the media.
• Coe's role with the IAAF is unpaid. He did not comment on whether he should accept payment for his role. He said that his role as IAAF vice president was a “non-operational” role from 2007 until he assumed the presidency in August.
• British Parliament member Damian Collins asked if Nike had an interest in hosting the IAAF World Championships in Oregon 2021? Coe responded by saying, “I don’t know, you’d have to ask them that.”
• Coe said that he was asked by a Nike executive about Eugene's bidding for the world championships and he responded by advising Eugene to “get back into competition” after losing to Doha for the 2019 IAAF World Championships. Coe assured that Nike was not part of TrackTown USA's bid funding package. Coe voted in favor of Eugene, when the selection vote was held outside of the normal bidding process.
• Coe told the bid organizers for Gothenburg, Sweden, which also wanted host the 2021 worlds, that a normal bidding process would take place in late March. Eugene was announced as the host city in April.
• Coe was asked about his relationship with Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar, who is under investigation by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency following a BBC and ProPublica report based on testimony by several of Salazar's former athletes and coaches, alleged that he pushed the boundaries on doping rules to gain a competitive advantage by encouraging the use of prescription medication and therapeutic use exemptions. Coe said that he is friends with Salazar but was not contacted by Nike following the investigation.
• Coe was pressed by Parliament member Paul Farrelly on how he knows the Qatari bid for the 2019 World Championships is clean. Coe said that he does not know but it is an issue that the IAAF will investigate. This week, the IAAF suspended three Kenyan officials, including Athletics Kenya president Isaiah Kiplagat. Kiplagat is accused of accepting two cars from Qatari officials before Doha was awarded the 2019 worlds.
• Farrelly noted that the only reason that Eugene was in contention for the IAAF World Championships was because Nike was involved. He never heard of the city's history in track and field.
• Coe on his potential conflicts of interest: “I could not be more transparent in what I do.”
• Coe was grilled about the willingness to accept the findings of a 2011 academic report by the University of Tübingen that found the prevalence of doping and suggested that nearly 45% of 2,163 athletes studied may have doped in 2011. Coe did not provide a clear answer on his view of the study.