Allegations that world athletics chief Sebastian Coe misled British lawmakers intensified on Tuesday after new emails appeared to show he was “made aware” of corruption claims concerning the Russian doping scandal four months before they became public.
Coe, the president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, told a House of Commons committee in December 2015 he was “not aware” of specific allegations of corruption in Russian athletics until a German documentary in December 2014.
But an email published on Tuesday by the culture, media and sport committee from British athletics great Coe, a two-time Olympic champion, to the IAAF’s ethics commission in August 2014 stated: “I have now been made aware of the allegations.”
Coe, a member of Britain’s unelected House of Lords, told Parliament in 2015: “I was certainly not aware of the specific allegations that had been made around the corruption of anti-doping processes in Russia.”
MPs had wanted Coe to re-appear before the committee following evidence from former athlete David Bedford that appeared to contradict that of the IAAF president.
Coe, the Olympic 1500 metres champion at both the 1980 and 1984 Games in Moscow and Los Angeles respectively, has yet to return to the committee but has agreed to two requests to make public correspondence he had with Michael Beloff, the chairman of the IAAF ethics commission, and a leading English lawyer.
“Whatever excuse he gives, it is clear that Lord Coe decided not to share with the committee information that was relevant to our inquiry on doping in sport,” House of Commons culture, media and sport committee chairman Damian Collins told the BBC on Tuesday.
“The committee asked him about his knowledge of doping in Russian athletics and of corruption within the sport. In his answers, he gave the impression that he was unaware of specific allegations.
“Thanks to evidence that was presented by the BBC Panorama programme last year, and by David Bedford to the committee this January, we can see that he was aware, at least in general terms, of the allegations that had been brought forward by the Russian athlete Liliya Shobukhova.”
Bedford, a former 10,000 metres world record holder, told the committee he had sent Coe — when he was vice president of the IAAF — an email with an attachment in August 2014 which contained an explosive allegation.
Andrei Baranov, the agent of Russian marathon runner Shobukhova, claimed she had been blackmailed by Russian and IAAF officials including Papa Massata Diack, the then IAAF president Lamine Diack’s son, to the tune of 450,000 euros (£356,000, $505,000) over a failed dope test.
Coe said he never opened the attachment and sent it on instead to the IAAF ethics commission and that the first he knew of the allegations was in a German documentary in December 2014.
Russia remains suspended by the IAAF after it was kicked out in November 2015 over allegations of “state-sponsored doping” in a move that saw athletes banned from international competition and the track and field team barred from last year’s Rio Olympic Games.