French probe Eugene 2021 decision

The American city of Eugene has had a extended association with athletics

The choice by the scandal-hit IAAF to award the 2021 Globe Athletics Championships to the American city of Eugene is becoming investigated by French prosecutors, the BBC has discovered.

Eugene, closely linked to sportswear giant Nike, was provided the occasion without the usual bidding method.

French officials are investigating corruption allegations involving former IAAF president Lamine Diack currently.

And they have launched a fresh inquiry into how Eugene won the 2021 occasion.

Final month, current IAAF president Lord Coe severed his links to Nike two days right after a BBC story suggested he had held talks with Diack and Nike about the awarding of the 2021 event whilst he was on the Nike payroll.

Lord Coe said at the time that he “did not lobby anyone” over Eugene’s bid, but basically “encouraged them to re-enter yet another bidding cycle as they had a sturdy bid”.

An e-mail, dated 30 January 2015, from Nike executive Craig Masback to Vin Linnana, head of Eugene’s bid, was sent after Masback held talks with Lord Coe.

Throughout that meeting Lord Coe apparently “made clear his assistance for 2021 in Eugene but created equally clear he had reached out to Diack specifically on this topic and got a clear statement from Diack that ‘I am not going to take any action at the April meeting [in Beijing] to choose a 2021 site’.”

However, at that April meeting of the IAAF’s council Diack announced a surprise vote on providing the championships straight to Eugene. It went by way of 23-1 with a single abstention, with Lord Coe voting in favour.

Coe quizzed more than his IAAF record

Other emails seen by the BBC reveal that Lananna produced at least 1 trip to Europe to visit Diack a few weeks after this email was written.

BBC sources have confirmed French investigators want to know much more about how Diack arrived at the decision to give Eugene the occasion.

French police, instructed by lead monetary prosecutor Elaine Houlette, have already arrested and questioned Lamine Diack, his legal adviser Habib Cisse and Gabriel Dolle, the former lengthy-standing head of the IAAF’s anti-doping unit.

Diack’s son, Papa Massata, is also wanted for questioning but is believed to be in his native Senegal.

Houlette has previously stated that Lamine Diack allegedly pocketed a lot more than £1m euros as part of a scheme to cover up suspected Russian athletes’ doping.

Lord Coe, who was a vice president of the IAAF under Lamine Diack for seven years, has been questioned voluntarily by French police.

He told the BBC he supported Eugene since it presented a “unique monetary and political chance” that may possibly not arise once again.

He denied his conversation with Masback was a conflict of interest among his then roles as vice-president of the IAAF and his ambassadorial function at Nike, which was worth a reported £100,000-a-year.

Coe said he was unaware of Diack’s choice to hand the event to Eugene without having a bidding procedure till a few days ahead of the April vote was called.

Eugene is the birthplace of and synonymous with Nike, which could stand to advantage financially from the event.

Two days right after the e mail was published by the BBC, Lord Coe – albeit reluctantly – announced he was ending his 38-year ambassadorial role at Nike, regardless of the IAAF ethics committee telling him he was welcome to preserve the function.

Speaking at a news conference in Monaco following an IAAF council meeting, Coe mentioned of his Nike role: “The current noise level about it is not very good for Nike or the IAAF.”

Lord Coe, who was grilled by MPs last week over his links to Nike and his function at the IAAF, has stated that he was unaware of any corrupt practices at the IAAF.

The move to award the event to Eugene led to criticism from Swedish city of Gothenburg, which was planning to bid.

Leader of the Gothenburg bid at the time and former head of Interpol, Bjorn Eriksson, told the BBC that the conflict of interest allegations about Lord Coe necessary “an explanation”.

Meanwhile, the IAAF ethics commission is to hold a session next week in London more than the corruption allegations.

A panel of the commission, comprising Thomas Murray and Akira Kawamura and chaired by Michael Beloff QC, is due to hear proof regarding the IAAF ethics code charges it has issued against Papa Massata Diack, a former consultant to the IAAF Valentin Balakhnichev, former president of the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) Alexei Melnikov, former chief ARAF coach for long distance walkers and runners and Gabriel Dolle, former director of the IAAF’s Anti-Doping Division.

One of the ethics commission members who signed off on the ethics charges laid against the four has previously faced corruption claims.

Kevan Gosper, a former vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, faced corruption allegations relating to the notorious Salt Lake City Winter Olympics when the bidding city paid for two trips to Utah for Gosper and his family members.

He resigned in 2000 from the IOC’s ethics committee over the claims – produced by the journalist Andrew Jennings – but was cleared of any wrongdoing by the committee, which concluded he had not knowingly or negligently violated IOC rules.

Another member of the IAAF ethics commission – which gave Lord Coe the all-clear to continue his association with Nike – is the Brazilian Carlos Nuzman, president of the Rio Olympics 2016 organising committee.

In 2012, he helped land a significant Nike sponsorship deal for the Brazilian Olympic Committee.

At the time, he mentioned: “Brazil is 1 of the most sport-obsessed nations on earth and Nike and Brazil have the same DNA in sport. Now we’ll be capable to perform collectively in a partnership that will undoubtedly be considerable for each partners.”

Present investigations into athletics

Planet Anti-Doping Agency (Wada)

Following its report into systematic doping in Russian athletics, Wada is anticipated to publish the second element of its report focusing on possible corruption inside the IAAF early subsequent year.

French economic prosecutors

French prosecutors are investigating former IAAF president Lamine Diack and 3 other people more than allegations of corruption, bribery and covering up suspicious dope tests.

IAAF ethics commission

4 IAAF officials, including Lamine Diack’s son Papa Massata Diack, have been charged with a variety of alleged breaches of the governing body’s code of conduct and will have their situations heard in front of an IAAF ethics commission panel next week.

US Anti-Doping Agency (Usada)

Usada is currently investigating doping allegations against Nike Oregon Project coach Alberto Salazar following a BBC Panorama documentary in June.

Added reporting: Calum McKay