MONACO: World athletics’ beleaguered governing body, the IAAF, meets on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to flesh out the measures that track and field powerhouse Russia needs to implement in order to resume international competition after its suspension over state-sponsored doping.
The IAAF Council meeting will be presided over by Sebastian Coe, the British two-time Olympic 1500m gold medallist who has found himself at the center of unwanted attention since taking over the presidency over claims of a conflict of interest concerning his continuing paid role as an ambassador for US sportswear giant Nike.
But it will be Russia that tops the agenda, just three weeks after the IAAF acted on a sensational report by an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that found evidence of state-sponsored doping and large-scale corruption in Russian athletics.
The IAAF not only slapped a temporary ban on Russia but also stripped it of the right to host the World Junior Championships (July 19-26 in Kazan) and the World Race Walking Team Championships (May 7-8 in Cheboksary).
With Russian athletes likely to miss out on the World Indoor Championships in Portland in March, the race is on for an effective roadmap to be put in place to ensure the country complies with WADA guidelines to allow the athletes to compete at next year’s Rio Olympics.
The independent commission’s bombshell report, co-authored by former WADA president Dick Pound, followed the decision by French police to open an investigation into Coe’s predecessor as IAAF president, Lamine Diack.
Diack, 82, is alleged to have received more than one million euros in bribes to cover up posi-tive doping tests, an act that allowed Russian athletes to keep competing on the world stage.
Pound has promised that the second part of his report, which focuses on corruption within the IAAF, would have a “wow factor”.
“I think people will say how on earth could this happen? It’s a complete betrayal of what the people in charge of the sport should be doing,” Pound told the Independent newspaper.
Coe, who was elected president of the IAAF in August after spending eight years as deputy to Diack, is not implicated in the allegations surrounding his former Senegalese boss, but his role in the awarding of the 2021 World Championships to Eugene has been called into question.
Eugene, where Nike started out before relocating to Beaverton in the same state of Oregon, was awarded the event without a bidding process, despite strong interest from the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
“I did not lobby anyone on behalf of the Eugene 2021 bid” in the US state of Oregon, Coe told the BBC amid allegations he had tried to influence Diack.
“The situation was unusual but not unprecedented. A bid process did not take place when Osaka was awarded the 2007 World Championships,” said Coe, who reportedly earns some £100,000 (142,000 euros) a year in his role as ambassador for Nike.
After being shown emails claiming that Coe contacted then-IAAF president Diack to support Eugene’s bid, Bjorn Eriksson, head of Gothenburg’s failed 2021 bid, told the BBC: “It doesn’t look good at all.
“It smells and it has to be investigated. That’s for the sport, for everybody involved,” he said.