24th October 2016

Statement on preliminary investigations into ‘brown envelope’ rumours surrounding bid for 2017 World Championships

On 17 January 2016 Mr Ed Warner, Chairman, UK Athletics, gave an interview to Radio 5’s “Sportsweek” programme in which he stated that on the night before the IAAF Council’s vote on the award of the 2017 World Championships in November 2011, he (as the head of the London bid team) was informed by a senior person within the IAAF of rumours that IAAF Council Members were being called upstairs to receive brown envelopes containing cash from the Qatari delegation. The implication, if the rumours were correct, was that members of the Council may have received improper payments which were intended to affect their voting intentions in respect of the award of the 2017 IAAF World Championships.

On 26 January 2016 Mr Warner gave evidence to the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee in its inquiry into Blood Doping in Athletics. When asked the identity of the senior person in the IAAF who had informed him of the rumours, Mr Warner explained that he would be providing that information to the IAAF Ethics Commission (now, Ethics Board).

On 3 February 2016 Mr Warner met the Chairman of the Ethics Board, Michael Beloff QC, together with the Ethics Board’s legal secretaries, and recounted the events as he recalls them. Mr Warner stated that the senior IAAF official who had informed him of the rumour was the then IAAF Vice-President, Lord Coe. Mr Warner provided the Ethics Board with the names of three individuals who he believed may have been present when, as he recalls it, Lord Coe told him of this rumour.

In response to enquiries made of him by the Board, Lord Coe has, however stated that he has no recollection of hearing such a rumour or therefore of communicating it to Mr Warner. In the same response to the Ethics Board, Lord Coe suggested that the Board also contact another person who was present with Lord Coe in Monaco on the occasion of the award of the 2017 World Championships to check his recollection. Upon enquiries of that person by the Board, he also stated that he had no recollection of witnessing or hearing any rumours of the kind referred to above.

As a result of the meeting with Mr Warner, the Ethics Board made a number of other enquiries, including contacting the three individuals identified by Mr Warner. The Ethics Board also wrote to all members of the IAAF Council (who held that office as of November 2011) to ask whether they had any knowledge or recollection of rumours about any improper payments being made on or around the date of the award of the 2017 World Championships.

The Ethics Board has now collated the responses to those enquiries, which were substantial in number. To date, none of the respondents have had any relevant evidence corroborative of Mr Warner’s recollection or relevant to the alleged factual matters the subject of the purported rumour.

The Ethics Board notes that the purpose of its preliminary investigation in this matter was to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to establish that cash payments may have been made with improper intent or effect upon the integrity of the process of awarding the 2017 World Championships. The Ethics Board could not make such determination simply on the basis of any rumours that may have been circulating in or about November 2011 and nothing more.

As a result of its preliminary investigations, and noting that there is no documentary evidence to corroborate Mr Warner’s recollection, the Ethics Board does not consider that it has sufficient evidence at present to open, under its procedural rules, a formal investigation. The Ethics Board will review the matter should further evidence come to its attention, and in the light of any material developments including those in the active criminal investigations which continue in a number of jurisdictions in respect of potential corruption by former IAAF office holders and/or agents.

• This media release was originally published by the Ethics Board of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on 24 October 2016. To access the original, please click here.

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