Further documentation has been released as part of a parliamentary doping inquiry, casting fresh light on what the IAAF president knew about Russian corruption allegations and when he might have known about them
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Seb Coe insists there are “no grounds” for suggesting he misled the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee “in any way” in December 2015.
After Coe’s evidence given in front of the Committee in 2015, MPs had wanted the IAAF president to return to discuss what – and exactly when – he might have known about any corruption allegations.
One of the purposes of the session with Bedford was to discuss an email sent from the former world 10,000m record-holder to Coe – then an IAAF vice-president – in August 2014 which included Bedford’s concerns over claims of the extortion of Russian marathoner Liliya Shobukhova.
When he appeared in front of the Select Committee, Coe had appeared to indicate that he had been unaware of specific allegations and the scale of the corruption claims prior to the broadcast of an ARD documentary – ‘Top-secret doping: How Russia makes its winners’ – in December 2014.
Coe has said that he forwarded Bedford’s email, with unopened attachments, to Michael Beloff QC, the chair of the then recently-established IAAF Ethics Commission.
On Tuesday (January 31) documentation published by the Committee included the email sent from Coe to Beloff on August 14, 2014, in which he says he had received “copied documentation of serious allegations being made by and on behalf of the Russian female athlete Shobukhova from David Bedford”. The email, which Coe says he dictated for his office to send, continues: “The purpose of this note is of course to advise you that I have now been made aware of the allegations.”
However, because the attachments of the email from Bedford to Coe remained unopened, as the IAAF president states in a four-page letter he sent to Committee chairman Damian Collins MP on January 26, Coe says he remained unaware of the substance of Shobukova’s allegations. In his letter, Coe also explains why he believes there is “no discrepancy” between the evidence he gave and the evidence given by Bedford.
At the end of the four-page letter, Coe writes: “I was not asked by your Committee when I first knew about the allegations that persons at the IAAF were involved in the cover-up of Russian doping cases, and I have made clear I did not read David Bedford’s emailed documents but asked my office to forward them to the person and the Commission with exclusive authority to investigate, in accordance with my obligations under the IAAF Ethics Code then in force.”
He adds: “I trust this clarifies the matter to the satisfaction of the Committee, and as such there are no grounds for suggesting that I misled the Committee in any way in December 2015.”
In response, Collins told the BBC: “Whatever excuse he gives, it is clear that Lord Coe decided not to share with the Committee information that was relevant to our inquiry on doping in sport.
“The Committee asked him about his knowledge of doping in Russian athletics and of corruption within the sport. In his answers, he gave the impression that he was unaware of specific allegations.
“Thanks to evidence that was presented by the BBC Panorama programme last year, and by David Bedford to the committee this January, we can see that he was aware, at least in general terms, of the allegations that had been brought forward by the Russian athlete Liliya Shobukhova.”