The IAAF president Sebastian Coe has promised to investigate claims of bribery in the bidding process for the 2017 world championships in London. The city was named in 2011 as host for the championships after beating off the challenge of Qatari capital Doha, The Guardian reports. Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, last week insisted London had nothing to hide over its bid amid the ongoing IAAF scandal being investigated by French prosecutors.
However, speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme on Sunday, Warner revealed that his team had agreed to spend $7.2m to cover prize money having been warned they were unlikely to succeed if they did not, and that they were told “brown envelopes” were being handed to members of the International Association of Athletics Federations council.
Warner said: “This is important: we have won, we are hosting the championships, but money is involved. “Very specifically, on the morning of the bid, council members of the IAAF and senior people at the IAAF were telling us that we were behind, and we were behind because the Qataris had promised to pay the $7.2m-dollar prize fund for the athlete prize money which otherwise the IAAF itself would have to pay.
“They were saying to us, ‘Look, you have got to match that offer.’ We had the room within our budget, it was something we had up our sleeve. We were wondering whether to play that card – we decided to play it and we won, and we are told that was a decisive swing factor.
“I look back at it now and I think, ‘Did I have to make that money [available]? Have I had to spend $7.2m?’. But if I was up against a bid that in any way, shape or form wasn’t straight, then really I should have that money back, so I welcome any investigation into all the bidding processes because I would love to believe it was a level playing field.
“I hope it was for the sake of the IAAF and for athletics, but if it wasn’t, then there needs to be some recompense.”
The former IAAF president Lamine Diack has already been questioned by the investigators in France, who also want to talk to his son, Papa Massata, named by Warner as being at the centre of rumours that emerged the night before the bidding process came to a head.
He said: “The night before the bid, a very senior person in the IAAF hierarchy told me and my bid team that they understood that certain members of the IAAF Council were being called upstairs one by one to a hotel suite to be given a brown envelope.
“It was quite shocking to hear it and my message to our bid team was, ‘Just ignore that. We are London, we do it the British way. We have no brown envelopes – even if we did, we’d have nothing to stuff into them. Let’s focus on our lobbying.’
“Frankly, it seemed incredible to me at the time and so I dismissed it. But subsequently, we have heard that Papa Diack, Lamine Diack’s son, apparently was asking for $5m from Qatar to support their bid – they were our competitors for the 2017 championships.”
Qatar has denied any wrongdoing in its bids for either the 2017 championships or the 2019 championships, which they will host. When asked if he was aware of the claims, Coe said he was not, but promised to look into them.
He said: “The French prosecutors are looking at this. I have already implemented a review of our financial, our marketing and our sponsorship arrangements within the IAAF, so if anything comes out of that nature, then clearly all those bids will be called in.”