World governing body’s deputy general secretary Nick Davies says his email, which appears to suggest that the announcement of failed doping tests be delayed, was “brain storming around media handling strategies”
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) issued a response on Monday (December 21) after extracts of an email published by French newspaper Le Monde highlighted an “unofficial PR campaign” for damage limitation regarding the release of details about failed doping tests by Russian athletes ahead of the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
The email, which Le Monde says was sent from the world governing body’s deputy general secretary Nick Davies to the then IAAF marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack, who is the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, talks about preparing a “special dossier” on IAAF testing and also mentions an unofficial PR campaign to “avoid international media scandals related to the Moscow Championships”.
It also discusses potentially using CSM, the sports marketing firm chaired by the now IAAF president Seb Coe, who was then a vice-president of the world governing body, for the campaign to “benefit from Seb’s political influence in the UK”.
Both Lamine Diack and Papa Massata Diack are being investigated by French financial prosecutors, while the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) was suspended as an IAAF Member following a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report which detailed findings including a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics.
Extracts of the email Le Monde says had been sent from Davies to Papa Massata Diack on July 19, 2013, read: “I need to be able to sit down with the anti-doping department and understand exactly what Russian ‘skeleton’ we have still in the cupboard regarding doping.
“I think that the time to have unveiled the various athletes was a long time ago and that now we need to be smart.”
The email allegedly added that any athletes to have failed doping tests “should NOT” be part of the Russian team for the 2013 World Championships. “If the guilty ones are not competing then we might as well wait until the event is over to announce them. Or we announce one or two BUT AT THE SAME TIME as athletes from other countries,” the email allegedly continued. “Also we can prepare a special dossier on IAAF testing which will show that one of the reasons why these Russian athletes come up positive is that they get tested a lot!!!”
A statement from Davies sent by the IAAF to AW read in part: “As Director of IAAF communications it was one of my responsibilities to manage and promote the reputation of the IAAF.
“My email to the IAAF’s then marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack, less than a month before the start of the Moscow World Championship, was brain storming around media handling strategies to deal with the serious challenges we were facing around the image of the event.
“No plan was implemented following that email and there is no possibility any media strategy could ever interfere with the conduct of the anti-doping process.
“I did not discuss these ideas with CSM and there has never been any agreement between the IAAF and CSM for any PR campaigns.
“CSM has never worked for the IAAF in any capacity since Sebastian Coe joined the company.”