Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Ed Warner, Chairman of UK Athletics (UKA), today admitted not reporting rumours of corruption around the bidding process for the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships at a Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Select Committee meeting at the UK Parliament today. He also refused to name IAAF officials spreading those rumours and admitted that IAAF President Sebastian Coe had agreed to an IAAF demand to pay an “extra demand” of US$7.2 million to cover prize money in order to secure the event for London.
Warner refused to name which IAAF official had told him that ‘brown envelopes’ were being given to IAAF Council members by Qatari officials, despite pressure from Damian Collins MP. Warner made the claim, which relates to the 2011 voting process, on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme (35:50 in) on 17 January.
London won the right to host the 2017 Championship over Doha after promising to cover $7.2 million in prize money, after IAAF officials had told Warner that UKA needed to match Doha’s offer to cover the prize money. Warner said that he would be reporting the approach to the IAAF Ethics Commission and if wrongdoing is proven, would be instructing legal advisors to recover the money. The IAAF Ethics Commission is now investigating the awarding of the 2017 and 2019 World Championships to London and Doha, respectively.
“I’ve had a number of discussions with the IAAF”, said Warner, who labelled the information as a rumour. “They have told me that the 2017 and 2019 bids by Qatar – Doha – have now been referred to their Ethics Committee. My next conversation is going to be with that Ethics Committee to lay out all I heard. I think that it would be inappropriate for me to pre-empt that process.” Collins said that he was told that UKA must match the $7.2 million in prize money by “two [IAAF] Council members and two senior IAAF officials”.
Warner faced severe criticism from Collins for not complaining to Sebastian Coe, who was then Vice President of the IAAF, but also a member of the London 2017 bid team. Asked whether Coe had told him to pay the extra $7.2 million, Warner said: “His [Coe’s] advice was that would be a major swing factor in our favour”. Warner said he had a “working assumption” that as the rumours were coming from senior officials at the IAAF, they would be dealt with, and he’d be “hugely disappointed” if they hadn’t been. He said that “possibly, with hindsight”, he ought to have reported the allegations sooner.
“In a small way, Mr. Warner, you are part of the problem in the IAAF”, said Collins. “Because if there are very senior people like you, who are aware of wrongdoing, who are not actually checking or following up on whether there is any investigation into that wrongdoing, you are effectively part of a conspiracy of silence and corruption in world sport”.
Warner also told the CMS Committee that UK Athletics plans to put in place an athlete agreement which would mandate that if an athlete is ever caught doping, they would lose their right to represent Great Britain. Warner wants such an agreement in place by the World Indoor Championships, which take place in Portland, Oregon, in March.
Warner told the CMS Committee that such an agreement “has never been tested” in sport. In 2012, the British Olympic Association was forced to scrap a lifetime ban for doping. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had challenged it (2011/A/2658) using an earlier CAS ruling (2011/O/2422), in which the CAS ruled that an International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision to ban athletes who have been sanctioned for doping from the next edition of the Olympic Games was ‘invalid and unenforceable’.
Warner also clarified that his plan for a public register of athlete tests, as outlined in UKA’s ‘Manifesto for Clean Athletics’, would only consist of the time and dates of tests, not blood data. He also clarified that the Manifesto’s suggestion was not that world records be taken away from athletes, but that it might perhaps be easier to start again with world records rather than deciding which ones should be “expunged”.
One of the most shocking revelations of the entire CMS Committee debate is that Sebastian Coe has never had a conversation with Nicole Sapstead, CEO of UK Anti-Doping. Sapstead was appointed as CEO of UKAD in February last year – after allegations of systemic Russian doping had been made – but before Coe took over Presidency of the IAAF in August. “The option of a meeting is always there” said Sapstead.
She also revealed that UKAD is in the process of signing a contract to carry out anti-doping testing in Russia. She said that UKAD had discussed with WADA the risk that the IAAF and Russia may attempt to use UKAD’s involvement to claim that problems in Russia are being addressed. However, it had been decided that whether or not Russian athletics is re-admitted in time for the Rio 2016 Olympics, it is only fair on athletes competing in other sports that Russians are tested before Rio. “There is the concern that, paradoxically, the suspension of RUSADA could open the door to more doping”, said CMS Committee Chairman Jesse Norman.
Sapstead didn’t agree with UKA’s suggestion of publishing testing dates and results, as to do so might allow the media, other countries or determined dopers to figure out UKAD’s testing plan. “Those that wish to understand how an anti-doping organisation operates might be savvy enough to look at the dates on which we conduct the tests on an athlete, overlay it onto their competition and training details, in an attempt to try and second guess how organisations such as UKAD undertake our tests”, she said. Also, “it has to be global to be meaningful”, she pointed out.
Sapstead also pointed out that UKAD is underfunded. “There are some Olympic and Paralympic sports that will receive no testing in a financial year”, she said. UKAD will be meeting with UKA to discuss its Manifesto – which it had not seen until it was published – next week.
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