Thursday 22 August 2019

Coe steps down from his £100,000-a-year Nike role

Sebastian Coe has stepped down from his Nike role
Sebastian Coe has stepped down from his Nike role

Ben Rumsby

Sebastian Coe severed his links with Nike last night despite maintaining the company did not represent a conflict of interests and declaring that “perception and reality” had become “horribly mangled”.

Amid mounting pressure to give up his paid role with the sportswear giant, the International Association of Athletics Federations president announced he had reluctantly terminated the £100k (€142k)-a-year deal.

Coe went public with the decision two days after an email emerged showing that he had discussed the award of the 2021 World Championships to the city of Eugene in the US with a senior executive at Nike.

Denying the revelation had any bearing on his decision, Coe nevertheless admitted the “noise” around his ambassadorial role as the IAAF is engulfed by sport’s biggest drugs scandal had convinced him to let it go.

Making a point of revealing the IAAF’s ethics commission had cleared him to keep the position with the sportswear giant, he said: “It is clear that perception and reality have become horribly mangled.

“The current noise level around this ambassadorial role is not good for the IAAF and it is not good for Nike. And, frankly, it is a distraction to the 18-hour days that I and my teams are working to steady the ship.”

Coe also confirmed he would stand down as chairman of the British Olympic Association after next summer’s Rio Games and had imposed an embargo on the sports marketing firm he chairs, CSM, tendering for work with the IAAF.

Speaking after an IAAF council meeting in Monaco, Coe said that dealing with the crisis, in which his predecessor, Lamine Diack, and other senior officials had been arrested on suspicion of taking bribes to cover up doping, required an “unflinching focus”.

But asked whether he believed the Nike deal represented a conflict of interests, he replied: “No, I don’t believe it was a conflict of interest.

I’ve always declared my interests with Nike, as I have across a range of activities.”

Coe denied the leaked email exchange between a senior executive at the firm and the 2021 World Championships bid leaders from Eugene – which is a Nike stronghold – suggested otherwise.

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