LONDON (Reuters) - The world athletics governing body (IAAF) has closed an ethics investigation into its president Sebastian Coe after finding there was no basis on which “any disciplinary case could be established” that he had “intentionally misled” a British Parliamentary Committee in 2015.
“The investigation has therefore not identified evidence of a potential breach of the code of ethics by Lord Coe,” it said.
Coe has denied throughout that he misled the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee when he appeared before it in December 2015, four months after being elected IAAF president.
“I want to thank the ethics board for all the work they do,” said Coe in a statement.
“When I became President of the IAAF, I promised greater transparency and integrity. I hope this demonstrates that no-one is above the rules and everyone in the sport is subject to the same scrutiny.”
Coe, previously an IAAF vice-president, was questioned about what he knew about doping in Russian athletics before he took office. In its final report ‘Combating doping in sport’ in 2018, the committee criticised Coe’s answers as misleading.
“It stretches credibility to believe that he was not aware, at least in general terms, of the main allegations,” the report added.
The IAAF’s ethics board then opened an investigation in September into whether Coe’s conduct had violated its own regulations.
Coe, a double Olympic 1,500 metres gold medallist, insisted that he did not know the specific detail of an email sent to him by former London Marathon race director David Bedford in 2014.
Bedford said the attachments contained details of how Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova had sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IAAF to cover up positive doping tests.
Shobukhova was banned for three years and two months, later reduced by seven months for assisting with investigations.
Although Coe confirmed receiving the email, he said he forwarded it to the IAAF ethics board without reading the attachments.
The board said in its decision on Thursday that Coe “behaved appropriately” by referring the matter.
“Coe’s evidence is that his personal assistant forwarded the email with its attachments to the Chairperson of the Ethics Board and that he (Coe) did not read the attachments,” it said.
“The investigation did not find any evidence inconsistent with that position.”
Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS committee, said he stood by the report.
“Lord Coe either knew more than he suggested he did when he gave evidence to the committee, or he knew enough about the Shobukhova (matter) to have asked more questions about it within the IAAF at the time,” he said in a statement.
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar