World athletics chief Sebastian Coe came under more pressure on Friday with a senior British lawmaker labelling his attitude to devastating allegations in an email as “very very disturbing”.
Coe is due to deliver an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) decision on Friday on whether to lift a ban on Russia over widespread doping violations so its track and field contenders can compete at the Rio Olympics.
However, the 59-year-old two-time Olympic champion is in the dock after a BBC documentary claimed he enlisted the help of the fugitive son of disgraced former IAAF president Lamine Diack for his successful election campaign last year.
It said Coe may also have misled a British parliamentary committee on why as an IAAF vice-president he did not do more to raise the issue of the Russian scandal.
He told the Committee for Culture, Media and Sport last December he had not been aware of specific allegations until a December 2014 German television documentary. When it was shown, Coe controversially described the programme “a declaration of war” on the sport.
However, the BBC and British newspaper The Daily Mail say they have evidence Coe knew four months before the programme as he had received an email about the corruption. The British media said the email included an attachment that outlined the level of corruption involving Diack Jnr and the blackmailing of a Russian marathon runner.
Coe has said he did not read the attachment and passed it on to the IAAF Ethics Committee.
Diack Jnr is wanted by France for fraud and money laundering charges. His father is already under house arrest in France facing charges.
Jesse Norman, a Conservative lawmaker and chairman of the parliamentary committee, told the BBC on Friday Coe would almost certainly be recalled to explain his actions.
“I’d say it’s almost certain we’ll want to have Lord Coe back in front of the committee,” said Norman.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of where the committee is going to be, but these are very serious matters.”
“The idea he received this email and, as I understand from his account, not have opened it having been associated with the IAAF in a senior position at that point for six years, and aware of the possibility of individual cases of dishonesty and corruption, is very, very disturbing.”
Norman was himself embroiled in controversy last year when he appeared to imply British athletics icon Paula Radcliffe had been a drugs cheat.
The lawmaker did not go as far as fellow committee member Damian Collins who had said Coe should resign if he did not come up with a convincing response to the claim he misled them.
Norman made clear Coe’s credibility was at stake and he could not give his fellow former Conservative lawmaker his vote of confidence.
“I think that the jury is out as matters presently stand,” said Norman.
“Competence is one thing, confidence is another thing and part of that would also be to assess whether he’s giving the IAAF the leadership that he has promised.”
“Now, that may all be swept away if the committee comes to the view that there’s been some issue of misleading Parliament here.”