Nick Davies, Sebastian Coe's right-hand man, steps aside from IAAF role to allow ethics investigation
Published 22/12/2015 | 20:49
Nick Davies, Sebastian Coe's right-hand man at the IAAF, has announced he will step aside from his role as the director of the president's office while an ethics board investigates allegations of unethical behaviour against him.
French newspaper Le Monde has obtained a copy of an email sent by Davies, the IAAF's former director of communications and now assistant to president Coe, in which he appears to seek to delay the identification of Russian drug cheats in the run-up to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.
In the email sent to Papa Massata Diack - the son of former president Lamine Diack and who has rejected allegations of alleged extortion and bribery - Davies appears to look to minimise the impact of naming Russian athletics who have failed drug tests.
Davies has denied any wrongdoing and said in a statement: "In order to demonstrate that I am willing to have all allegations of unethical behaviour on my part in 2013 properly and fairly investigated I have referred my emails to Papa Massata Diack in 2013, my statements and the circumstances of the emails to the IAAF Ethics Board.
"I have decided to step aside from my role with the IAAF until such time as the Ethics Board is able to review the matter properly and decide if I am responsible for any breach of the IAAF Code of Ethics."
Davies added: "In statements over recent days I have underlined that one of my key responsibilities is to manage and promote the reputation of the IAAF.
"What has become apparent today is that I have become the story. This is not helpful at the current time, with ongoing criminal investigations by the French police, the IAAF's Ethics Board or WADA - all of whom I have voluntarily offered full assistance to and will continue to do so."
In the e-mail obtained by Le Monde, Davies said he wanted to "sit down with the anti-doping department and understand what Russian skeletons" remained in the closet, and stressed that his correspondence should be kept "very secret".
Davies added that the IAAF must "work hard to stop all attacks planned by the British press towards Russia" and that any Russian athletes found guilty of doping should not be included in the Moscow championships. He went on to write: "If the guilty ones are not competing, then we might as well wait until the event is over to announce them."
Last week the IAAF ethics commission concluded a three-day hearing into Diack Junior, IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev, former IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle and the Russian federation's former chief coach for long-distance athletes, Alexei Melnikov.
The officials faced disciplinary hearings on charges that they covered up doping offences, with all four charged with various breaches of the IAAF's code of ethics.
Lifetime bans could be handed down, with a decision expected to be announced in early January, but Diack Junior has denied the charges.
"There was no extortion of funds from any athlete," he told the BBC. "I've never met any athlete, any agent, any person in the world... asking to have a payment.
"I deal with corporate sponsors, I deal with governments, I deal with municipal government, I deal with Olympic committees, I never dealt with any athlete or any agent, so I reject those allegations."
The IAAF charges involve Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, the former London marathon winner who turned whistleblower for the World Anti-Doping Agency earlier this year, and money she paid to have her doping violations covered up.
According to testimony she has given, Shobukhova paid more than 600,000 US dollars (£435,000) for violations to be covered up so that she was not suspended.
The IAAF has banned Russia from international competition after a report by the WADA's independent commission, headed by Dick Pound, who is due to release the second part of his findings on January 14.
Papa Massata Diack's father, Lamine, is the focus of a police investigation amid allegations he took money to cover up positive drugs tests by Russian athletes.
On that, Diack Junior told the BBC: "He's never been involved in any corrupt system to extort money from athletes, I totally reject that.
"Suddenly they are just going to destroy all he's built over the last 16 years and all the 39 years he's spent in the IAAF, so I find it very sad and I could not recognise certain acts or certain declarations made by certain people, but it's a fact of life.
"I think the best adage in this case, as we say in Senegal, is: 'God, we leave it to God to give the truth of all this.'"
Diack Junior has also rejected allegations that he requested 5million US dollars (£3.36m) from Qatar shortly before their unsuccessful bid for the 2017 World Championships.
"I have a very longstanding relationship with Qatar that dates to 1995, so I don't need to send an email when I need something from Qatar," he said.
"I have all the right people's contacts and I can go straight to them. So I reject it totally."