IAAF President Sebastian Coe (above) is on the defensive over his role in Eugene receiving the 2021 world athletics championships without a bidding process, insisting on Tuesday that a leaked email does not show he lobbied for the small Oregon city. Coe is a special adviser for Nike Inc, whose headquarters are outside Portland, close to Eugene. Eugene and Gothenburg were vying for the 2021 worlds, and the vote was expected to be made in November 2016. But Eugene was granted the hosting rights last April. The IAAF published an email from January, first reported by the BBC on Tuesday, from leading Nike official Craig Masback to officials at Eugene's Track Town USA which followed a conversation with Coe.
"He made clear his support for 2021 in Eugene but made equally clear he had reached out to (then IAAF president Lamine) Diack specifically on this topic and got a clear statement from Diack that 'I am not going to take any action at the April meeting (in Beijing) to choose a 2021 site,'" Masback wrote. Coe was the chairman of the evaluation committee for the 2019 bidding process, which Qatari capital Doha won.
"I did not lobby anyone on behalf of the Eugene 2021 bid," Coe said on the IAAF website on Tuesday. "After their narrow defeat for the 2019 world championships I encouraged them to re-enter another bidding cycle as they had a strong bid." But Gothenburg wants Coe's role to be explored further based on the email leak.
"It doesn't look good at all," Bjorn Eriksson, leader of Gothenburg's 2021 bid, told the BBC. "I would very much like to hear how could this be explained. It is a very good question to Sebastian Coe. What is this? It smells and it has to be investigated. That's for the sport, for everybody involved." Damian Collins, a member of the British parliament's culture, media and sport committee called on Coe to sever his role with Nike, since becoming the IAAF president in August.