Doha’s bids for world athletics championships under investigation

Both 2017 and 2019 bids subject to IAAF ethics commission admits UK Athletics chief

Doha’s bids for the 2017 and 2019 world athletics championships are now under investigation by the IAAF’s ethics commission, the chairman of UK Athletics has revealed.

"I've had a number of discussions with the IAAF and they have told me the 2017 and 2019 bids by Doha have now been referred to their ethics commission. My next conversation will be with the ethics commission to lay out all I heard," said Ed Warner, appearing before the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

The Guardian revealed in December 2014 an email in which Papa Massata Diack, the son of disgraced IAAF president Lamine, had apparently asked for $5 million (€4.6 million) from Qatar at a time when it was bidding for the 2017 world athletics championships and the Olympics. Diack, now wanted by Interpol as part of a French criminal investigation into corruption in athletics that has also arrested his father, denied sending the email.

Late last year, the IAAF’s independent ethics commission also said Kenyan officials had been given two cars at a time when it was bidding for the 2019 world championships. The Qatari capital lost out to London for the 2017 championships but won the right to host 2019.


Earlier this month, Warner told BBC’s Sportsweek programme he had been told by a senior IAAF official that “brown envelopes” were being handed out in a hotel suite on the eve of the 2017 decision. The Qatar Athletics Federation has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

In a testy exchange with Damian Collins MP, Warner refused to say who had told which senior IAAF figure had told him the brown envelope rumour but would lay everything he knew before the ethics committee.

He was asked whether Sebastian Coe, then an IAAF vice-president and part of the London 2017 bid team, was the one who had told him but he refused to answer. Coe told the BBC he had not heard the claims before.

Collins said Warner could be accused of being part of a “conspiracy of silence” because he waited four years before mentioning the rumours. The UKA chairman said it wasn’t until recently that he had reconsidered the claims in the light of new allegations about Doha’s bid and corruption at the IAAF.

“I worked on the basis that as these were sufficiently senior people then they were being referred, perhaps it will emerge that they weren’t,” he told the committee. “I would be hugely disappointed if the rumours were not acted on. Let’s see who knew what.”

Warner has suggested that if it emerges the Doha bid was not above board, it could lobby for a return of the $7.2m (€6.6 million) that the London 2017 bid had to promise in prize money in order to match the Qatar bid.

Coe has said that if any wrongdoing is proved he will look into the award of major championships. The French police investigation is understood to be looking into the award of every world championships since 2009 in the wake of former Wada president Dick Pound’s report into state sponsored doping in Russia and an associated cover up at the IAAF.

Warner also revealed that British athletes selected for the world indoor championships will have to sign a document that will ban them from future competition for life if they are found guilty of doping. He confirmed the clause would be written into the contracts for the British team selected for the world indoor championships in Portland in March and the London 2017 world championships.

“In the contract, British athletes will say they forfeit their right to represent Britain again if they are banned,” said Warner.

The British Olympic Association previously had a rule that excluded athletes from future Games for life if they were banned but it was found to be legally unenforceable. Despite immediate scepticism among legal experts, Warner said UKA was consulting with lawyers about how best to draft the rule.

“The fight is worth having because the outcome is so important. The team members agreement for world indoors will include that cause,” said Warner. “I don’t see any of them disagreeing with that there and then. If you want to be selected, one of the things you have to do is sign the team members agreement.”

The UKA chairman also said that Russia should not be allowed back into competition ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics and called on Coe to move quickly to appoint a new chief executive and senior executive team.

But he backed Coe, under huge pressure on a range of fronts, to overhaul the organisation. “We assisted in getting our man into that place and I believe he has got the wit, the intelligence, the ambition, the integrity to deliver that change. We believe this man can deliver and will deliver,” he said.

UK Anti Doping chief executive Nicole Sapstead was also asked whether Russia could overhaul its anti-doping system in time for the Rio 2016 Olympics. "I don't think so. What we have seen is so entrenched that this isn't an overnight solution. I think it will take a number of years before any credibility can be attached to their programmes and the potentially the credibility of the performances."

(Guardian service)