Parliamentary probe wants IAAF president to answer more questions following evidence given by Dave Bedford
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has insisted it is not necessary for president Lord Seb Coe to appear again before the UK parliament, despite the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee suggesting he be recalled to answer further questions following evidence given by Dave Bedford.
Bedford, the former chairman of the IAAF road running commission and now a non-executive UK Athletics board member, spoke on Tuesday (January 10) at an evidence session as part of the Committee’s inquiry into combatting doping in sport.
One of the purposes of the session was to discuss an email sent from former world 10,000m record-holder Bedford 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.
During the evidence session, Bedford described how he was left “very surprised and quite disappointed” after learning that the email he sent to Coe highlighting his concerns of corruption was not read in full by Coe but forwarded on, with the attachments unopened.
In 2015 Shobukhova was stripped of her World Marathon Majors titles – which included wins in London in 2010 and in Chicago in 2009, 2010 and 2011 – following abnormalities detected in her biological passport. Her case has since been detailed in reports following investigation by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission which looked into extortion claims.
Speaking with the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in December 2015, Coe – who was elected as president of the IAAF in August of that year – 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.
At the evidence session Bedford (pictured below) confirmed that his concerns were highlighted to Coe earlier than this – in his August 2014 email – but added that he received no response at that time.
When questioned in a post-IAAF Council meeting press conference in June 2016 about his communication with Bedford, Coe had said: “Dave Bedford did speak to me, I think from memory at the time of the European Championships or around that time in Zurich. He talked about rumours and allegations but no details and then forwarded me the email which I then forwarded to Michael Beloff at the Ethics Committee.”
He added: “There is an ethics board and my standard response has always been, forward whatever you know and whatever conversation you want to relay to the ethics board. That is exactly what it is there for.”
Offering one suggestion as to why Coe might have kept his own counsel on the situation, Bedford told MPs: “I think if you look at what has happened subsequently to him being elected to a position of power, there are clear indications that he wants the integrity of our sport brought back and, from what I have read, he has made significant steps towards that happening.”
He added: “I think that it might be true that he decided that the best way he could help the sport was to make sure that he got elected as president because if that didn’t happen then there was no future for the sport.
“Therefore, maybe his timelines of doing something about this run slightly differently from ones that other people might have hoped.
“That is the only thing that I can think of, I have no evidence for it. What I am trying to do, with my knowledge of the sport, is to try and get you seeing this from a slightly different angle than perhaps the one you are at the moment.”
He continued: “Seb Coe is the only chance that athletics has to get over this difficult period of time and I have faith in his ability to do that.”
Following the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee evidence session, MP Damian Collins confirmed that the committee had agreed to recall Coe to answer further questions as part of the doping in sport inquiry.
However, a statement from the IAAF advised that the two-time Olympic gold medallist has no further information he can give.
“Today’s evidence has offered nothing new to the committee’s inquiry into ‘Combatting Doping in Sport’,” read the statement. “All information including the emails central to their questioning today, were sent to their committee chair in June 2016 and acknowledged. Based upon this Coe has no further information he can provide to the inquiry.
“As we have previously confirmed Coe’s number one priority was to ensure that the right people in the right place were aware of any allegations and were investigating them.
“This was confirmed when his office forwarded the emails to the man Coe trusted the most, Michael Beloff QC, the chair of the then recently established IAAF Ethics Commission, receipt of which Beloff acknowledged.”