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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Athletics chief to probe Qatar, UK bids for 2017 IAAF meet

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

An investigation over claims of bribery surrounding Qatar’s unsuccessful bid to host the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) championships will be launched soon, the head of the organization has said.

In an interview with BBC radio, IAAF President Seb Coe responded to allegations made by UK Athletics Chairman Ed Warner that “brown envelopes” were being handed out to IAAF Council members on the eve of the vote in 2011, according to media reports.

Qatar and the UK were both bidding for hosting rights to the track & field championships.

The UK won them, after agreeing to secure $7.2 million in prize money, Warner said during an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek’s program yesterday.

Qatar's bid team celebrates after the country is announced as the host of the 2019 World Championships in Athletics.
Qatar’s bid team celebrates after the country is announced as the host of the 2019 World Championships in Athletics.

Qatar then successfully bid to host the 2019 championships which it was awarded in late 2014, the IAAF announced.

Bribery charges

Warner said the night before the vote for the 2017 championships, he and his bid team were told that some council members were being bribed.

“It was quite shocking to hear it and my message to our bid team was: ‘Just ignore that. We are London, we do it the British way. We have no brown envelopes – even if we did, we’d have nothing to stuff into them. Let’s focus on our lobbying,” the Guardian reported Warner as saying.

Warner claimed that on the morning of the bid, IAAF officials then told him that Qatar had agreed to pay for the prize money for the championships, worth $7.2 million, and that London should try to offer the same if it wanted to host the event.

“They were saying to us: ‘Look, you have got to match that offer.’ We had the room within our budget. It was something we had up our sleeve. We were wondering whether to play that card. We decided to play it, we won and we are told that was a decisive swing factor,” Warner added.

IAAF President Seb Coe
IAAF President Seb Coe

Coe said he would investigate the allegations, and he appealed to those who believe they have evidence of extortion to tell the IAAF.

“If there are athletes out there at this moment listening to this program… if they think they have been subject to extortion, come forward. Come forward to the (IAAF) Ethics Board, come forward to me, go and speak to WADA. We need to understand how far and how wide this goes,” he said.

The move follows a statement by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Thursday that all championship bids from 2007 until 2021 will be investigated as part of a wider probe into alleged corruption at the IAAF, the Guardian reports.

Qatar’s bids for 2017 and 2019, the latter of which it won, will be part of this investigation.

Qatar has previously denied any wrongdoing. The Qatar Olympic Committee did not respond to Doha News‘ requests for a comment on the latest claims.

WADA issued the second part of its report into the IAAF on Thursday, concluding that “corruption was embedded in the organisation.”

The report came after allegations emerged of doping scandals in Russia and other countries, as well as bribery.

The French police have been conducting the investigation and are already looking into claims of corruption and money laundering against former IAAF President Lamine Diack.

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