New emails have emerged that suggest Lord Coe was “made aware” of corruption and Russian doping allegations months before they became public. This has led to accusations that the President of the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] governing body and 2-time Olympic gold champion misled the parliamentary inquiry.
In December 2015 Lord Coe - who had become President of the IAAF four months earlier - told the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee that he was unaware of specific allegations of corruption. However this appears to be contradicted by recently unveiled emails sent in August 2014, where he appears to reference his awareness.
One email to the IAAF’s ethics commission from Lord Coe states: “I have now been made aware of the allegations.”
The emails have come to light after athlete and former world 10,000m record holder David Bedford testified to the committee earlier this month, revealing inconsistencies in Lord Coe’s own testimony. As a member of the House of Lords, Lord Coe can, and has, refused to return to give evidence in front of the Select Committee. He did, however, grant requests from MPs to release the full email chain between himself and the chair of the IAAF ethics commission.
During the enquiry back in 2015, Lord Coe informed Parliament: "I was certainly not aware of the specific allegations that had been made around the corruption of anti-doping processes in Russia."
Although Lord Coe denies any wrongdoing or inconsistencies, the emails seem to confirm his knowledge of the Russian doping scandal that has hung over the athletics world for the past three years.
In an interview with the BBC, Committee chairman Damian Collins said "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.
"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."
He continued, “This episode adds further weight to the concern that senior figures within athletics could have done more to make themselves fully aware of serious allegations of corruption and doping within their sport, and then acted on that information to make sure that it was being properly investigated."
German journalist Hajo Seppelt broke the story of doping within the Russian sporting community in December 2014. Seppelt reported that senior IAAF officials extorted €450,000 (£330,000) in blackmail money from Russian marathon champion, Shobukhova, after abnormalities in her biological passport were discovered.
As a consequence, all Shobukhova’s titles and results from 2009 were stripped and erased from records (including the 2010 London Marathon title and 2009, 2010 and 2011 Chicago Marathon titles). She was also given a 2-year ban which was then extended by 14 months.
Originally Lord Coe claimed that he failed to open certain attachments in emails due to a “lack of curiosity,” and thus he was “unaware.”
The committee is due to finalise their report on doping in sport in the next few weeks.
Read Lord Coe’s full response here.