Tuesday 23 January 2018

IAAF suspend official over allegedly taking money to bury Russian doping scandal

IAAF deputy general secretary Nick Davies
IAAF deputy general secretary Nick Davies

Matt Slater

Lord Coe's closest aide at world athletics' governing body has been provisionally banned over allegations he took money to bury news of positive Russian drugs tests in 2013.

The ethics board of the IAAF has suspended deputy director general Nick Davies, his wife Jane Boulter-Davies and medical manager Pierre-Yves Garnier for 180 days from June 10.

The allegations stem from an email sent by Davies to the son of Lamine Diack - whom Coe succeeded as IAAF president last August - before the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow which outlined a plan to delay naming Russian cheats to avoid bad publicity.

In the email to Papa Massata Diack, a marketing consultant, Davies suggested a "very secret" five-point plan to manage media reaction to doping positives.

Sent on July 19, 2013, 22 days before the start of the championships, the Englishman wrote that he needed to "sit down" with the IAAF's anti-doping team and discuss "Russian skeletons in the cupboard".

In the four months before the 2013 Worlds the IAAF sanctioned 16 Russian athletes for doping, but Davies told Papa Massata Diack that the IAAF needed to be "smart" about how it announced any further doping cases.

He then went on to suggest that any bans for Russians not competing in Moscow be delayed until after the event, or they be announced in ones and twos along with bans for athletes from other countries.

Davies told Papa Massata Diack that the IAAF should also prepare a "special dossier" to explain that Russians are tested more often than other nations and suggested the IAAF should fund an "unofficial PR campaign" to deal with negative stories in the British media, "where the worst of the articles (are) coming from".

Most embarrassingly for Coe, Davies proposed using CSM, the sports marketing firm he chairs, for this campaign as, in Davies' words, "it is in his interest to ensure the Moscow World Championships is a success and that people do not think the media in his country are trying to destroy it".

Coe and CSM have always denied any knowledge of this plan and there is no evidence it was taken up.

But the IAAF ethics board, chaired by prominent British lawyer Michael Beloff QC, has found "prima facie" cases that Davies, Boulter-Davies and Garnier received "undisclosed cash payments" from Papa Massata Diack in 2013 which were intended to have "any manipulative effect" and that they may have "misled" an IAAF ethics board investigator about them.

Both Diacks, the IAAF's former treasurer and Russian athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichev, former IAAF anti-doping boss Gabriel Dolle and Lamine Diack's legal adviser Habib Cisse have already been suspended for their part in the wider Russian doping scandal, which is also the subject of a French criminal investigation.

The cases against Davies, Boulter-Davies and Garnier are based on an email from Papa Massata Diack to his father on July 29 saying that Balakhnichev had asked him to become "internally involved with IAAF staff who had been antagonistic towards him" in dealing with the Russian cases.

He then explained that "lobbying activities were carried out and efforts at providing explanations were made" with Davies, Dolle, Garnier and others, with sums of money listed for "UK press lobbying" and "to assuage Jane Boulter".

Beloff's statement cited a report in French newspaper Le Monde that said: "Papa Massata Diack gave money to various people to keep them quiet and so that they would not object."

Davies, whom Coe promoted to run the IAAF office in Monaco after his election as president, stepped down when the BBC and Le Monde first revealed his 2013 email last December. He has denied any wrongdoing.

An IAAF statement in response to the provisional suspensions said: "There is no greater priority for the IAAF right now than to get to the truth of the allegations that have been made against the sport.

"The IAAF welcomes these investigations by the ethics board and (its) investigator Sir Anthony Hooper and thanks them for the difficult and hard work they continue to undertake.

"As the ethics board statement says, each of the persons provisionally suspended 'enjoys the presumption of innocence until the outcome of the investigation and the determination of disciplinary charges, if any, brought against them'.

"It is therefore important that we let these investigations take their course without further comment."

Press Association

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