LONDON: Three officials of track and field’s world governing body — including one of Sebastian Coe’s top aides — were provisionally suspended Friday for allegedly receiving money to conceal Russian doping cases.
The IAAF ethics board imposed six-month suspensions on former communications director Nick Davies, his wife and project manager Jane Boulter-Davies, and medical manager Pierre-Yves Garnier, pending a full investigation.
Panel chairman Michael Beloff said the suspensions were leveled “in the interests of the integrity of the sport but do not prejudge the outcome of the investigations.”
The board said the sanctions were in connection with an email reportedly sent on July 29, 2013, to then IAAF President Lamine Diack from his son, Papa Massata Diack, an IAAF marketing consultant.
The email, as reported in December by the French newspaper Le Monde, allegedly outlined plans to delay announcement of Russian doping cases to avoid bad publicity before the 2013 world championships in Moscow.
Davies served as communications chief and deputy secretary general under Lamine Diack, who stepped down as IAAF president last year and is under investigation by French prosecutors for corruption related to cover-ups of Russian doping.
Coe, who was elected as Diack’s successor in August, appointed Davies as his chief of staff. After the allegations against Davies surfaced in December, Davies said he was temporarily stepping aside from his IAAF role pending a probe by the ethics board.
Davies was reported to have sent an email to Papa Massata Diack in 2013 asking what “Russian ‘skeleton’ we have still in the cupboard regarding doping,” and suggesting using the marketing company chaired by Coe — then an IAAF vice president — to lead an “unofficial PR campaign” to “avoid international media scandals” related to the Moscow championships.
If Russian athletes guilty of doping were not competing in Moscow, “then we might as well wait until the event is over to announce them,” Davies wrote in the email, which was published by Le Monde.
The IAAF ethics board said it found enough evidence to warrant investigation that Davies received an “undisclosed cash payment” from Papa Massata Diack in 2013 which may have resulted in “manipulative” action, and that he misled an IAAF investigator about the payment.
The panel alleged Boulter-Davies “received or had knowledge of receipt” by Nick Davies of a payment from the younger Diack, and also misled investigators. It said Garnier allegedly received cash “at the direction” of Lamine Diack.
The announcement came exactly one week before the IAAF’s ruling council meets in Vienna to decide whether or not to lift its suspension of Russia’s track and field federation before the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The suspension was imposed in November following a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency panel alleging state-supported doping and corruption in Russian athletics.
Lamine Diack is under suspicion of taking around 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to cover up positive drug tests by Russian athletes through blackmail and extortion. His son, who is based in Senegal, is the target of an Interpol wanted notice, and French prosecutors also suspect he played an active role in cover-ups.
The IAAF welcomed the provisional suspensions announced by the ethics panel.
“There is no greater priority for the IAAF right now than to get to the truth of the allegations that have been made against the sport,” the Monaco-based federation said.