Lord Coe set for select committee recall after Dave Bedford evidence

Seb Coe
Lord Coe is a two-time Olympic gold medallist

Lord Coe, the head of world athletics, will be recalled by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, after MPs heard evidence that "undermined" his comments to them in December 2015.

Coe told the committee he was unaware of specific cases of corruption before they became public in December 2014.

But former athlete Dave Bedford said he contacted Coe about Russian athlete Liliya Shobukhova in August that year.

Bedford added he spoke to Coe about a related matter on 21 November 2014.

Allegations of state-sponsored doping by Russian athletes, and cover-ups involving officials at the sport's world governing body the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), were revealed in a documentary by German broadcaster ARD on 3 December 2014.

That is when Coe, who was elected IAAF president in August 2015, says he became aware of specific allegations.

Bedford, 67, said he was "very surprised and quite disappointed" to find the 60-year-old had not opened emails sent in August 2014, which provided details of alleged extortion from marathon runner Shobukhova, who was given a doping ban in 2014.

Coe, in his evidence to the committee, said he forwarded Bedford's emails to the IAAF's then-recently formed ethics board, without reading them or opening the attachments.

Damian Collins, chair of the select committee, said he wanted Coe to come back before the committee because Bedford's evidence "raised clear and important questions" about Coe's knowledge of the allegations, while Conservative MP Nigel Huddleston said the answers "undermined" the former Olympic champion's version of events.

In response, the IAAF said former London Marathon race director Bedford "offered nothing new" to the inquiry, and Coe has "no further information he can provide".

Collins then issued a further statement, saying Bedford's evidence "casts some doubt" on when Coe learned of specific allegations.

He added: "There are also questions about why Lord Coe didn't do more to make himself aware of the issues that were contained in the allegations that Bedford sent him."

However, Coe may not have to attend a further committee hearing. While select committees have the power to compel people to attend hearings and give evidence, MPs and members of the House of Lords - such as Lord Coe - are exempt.

Coe is athletics' only chance - Bedford

Bedford agreed with the committee it was "strange" Coe had not opened his email attachments, and said he had no doubt the double Olympic champion knew about the Shobukhova case when they met in November 2014.

However the former 10,000m world record holder also defended Coe, describing him "as someone within the IAAF who I could trust".

When asked to explain why Coe did not follow up on the email, Bedford suggested he may have decided the "best way he could help the sport was to make sure he got elected as president", as otherwise there was "no future" for athletics.

"In my opinion, looking at all the other alternatives, Seb Coe is the only chance athletics has to get over this difficult period," added Bedford.

Dave Bedford
Former 10,000m world record holder Dave Bedford address the Culture, Media and Sport select committee

Bedford's timeline of events

  • December 2011: Bedford, then chairman of the IAAF road running committee, says he was asked by colleague Sean Wallace-Jones whether Liliya Shobukhova had been paid the $500,000 for winning the 2010-2011 World Marathon Majors, warning: "If you haven't, I wouldn't." The prize money had already been paid.
  • December 2012: Shobukhova competes at the 2012 London Olympics and the Chicago Marathon before being signed by Bedford to run the 2013 London Marathon. Bedford then receives a call from Shobukhova's agent, Andrey Baranov, to say she is unable to compete because she is pregnant.
  • February 2014: In a bar in Tokyo, Baranov tells Wallace-Jones he has seen evidence of extortion, with Shobukhova paying large sums of money to senior Russian athletics officials.
  • March 2014: At the IAAF Copenhagen Half Marathon, Bedford meets Baranov and Wallace-Jones, and Baranov decides to make a formal complaint.
  • April 2014: Baranov and Wallace-Jones sign a sworn deposition, which they send to the IAAF's new ethics board chairman, Michael Beloff, in the same month Shobukhova is given a two-year ban.
  • 8 August 2014: After Coe tells Bedford during a phone call he has not heard about the Shobukhova case being dealt with by the IAAF ethics board, Bedford sends him an email with attachments relating to the issue. Coe says he forwarded the email on to the ethics commission without reading the attachments.
  • 14 August 2014: Bedford texts Coe to ask if he has seen the previous email, but does not receive a reply.
  • 24 September 2014: Bedford learns that now-banned ex-IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle is to leave the governing body, prompting him to text Coe: "I hear Dolle is leaving at the end of the week - pushed or walked? I hope this is not the start of a cover-up." He does not receive a reply.
  • 21 November 2014: At the British Athletics Writers' Lunch in London, Bedford tries to get Coe to meet Baranov and Shobukhova's lawyer Mike Morgan. Coe says he needs to "seek guidance" before doing so. Bedford claims Coe was aware of the issue at this point but the two did not discuss the August email.
  • 3 December 2014: German broadcaster ARD airs its documentary alleging state-sponsored Russian doping and cover-ups at the IAAF.
  • 4 December 2014: Coe calls Bedford to say he has seen the ARD documentary and is still seeking advice regarding Morgan.
  • 7 December 2014: Coe texts Bedford, saying the legal advice is not to talk to someone [Morgan] representing a litigant. Regarding the Shobukhova case, he says "the ethics committee know of this and more".

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