London: The director of IAAF President Sebastian Coe's office temporarily stepped down yesterday pending an ethics investigation into emails linked to Russian doping cases.
Sebastian Coe. Pic/AFP
Emails sent by Nick Davies, leaked to a French newspaper and published this week, indicated that he tried to delay public identification of alleged Russian drug cheats ahead of the 2013 world championships in Moscow.
"I have decided to step aside from my role with the IAAF until such time as the ethics board is able to review the matter properly and decide if I am responsible for any breach of the IAAF code of ethics," Davies said in a statement yesterday.
Davies was IAAF communications director at the time under Lamine Diack, who was succeeded by Coe as president in August. The French criminal case against Diack deepened this week, with magistrates filing new, tougher corruption charges against him in connection with cover-ups of Russian doping.
French prosecutors also suspect Diack's son, Papa Massata Diack, a former IAAF marketing consultant, played an active role in an alleged "system of corruption" that sought to blackmail athletes, with demands of money to hush-up suspected doping.
Davies is 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 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 yesterday by Le Monde.
Coe is now losing one of his closest aides just as he tries to clean up the scandal-tainted governing body. "In order to demonstrate that I am willing to have all allegations of unethical behaviour on my part in 2013 properly and fairly investigated I have referred my emails to Papa Massata Diack in 2013, my statements and the circumstances of the emails to the IAAF ethics board," Davies said in today's statement.
Davies has suggested that emails reflected his job "to manage and promote the reputation of the IAAF." "What has become apparent today is that I have become the story," he said. "This is not helpful at the current time, with ongoing criminal investigations by the French police, the IAAF's ethics board or WADA, all of whom I have voluntarily offered full assistance to and will continue to do so."