IAAF closes investigation into president Lord Sebastian Coe

Lord Sebastian Coe addresses a press conference at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships -- Mar. 29, 2019. Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has revealed it launched and has now closed an ethics investigation into its president Lord Sebastian Coe over allegations he provided misleading answers to a British parliamentary committee in 2015.

The world governing body's ethics board said that it had found there was no basis on which "any disciplinary case could be established that Lord Coe intentionally misled the Parliamentary Committee" following a six-month investigation.

"The investigation has therefore not identified evidence of a potential breach of the code of ethics by Lord Coe," it said.

The former middle-distance runner 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.

Lord 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 his 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.

Lord Coe, a double Olympic 1500 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 Lord Coe confirmed receiving the email, he said he forwarded it to the IAAF ethics board via his Personal Assistant without reading the attachments. The board said in its decision on Thursday that Lord Coe "behaved appropriately" by referring the matter, and agreed his PA supported his version of events.

"Coe's evidence is that his personal assistant forwarded the email with its attachments to the Chairperson of the Ethics Board and that he [Lord Coe] did not read the attachments," it said.

"The investigation did not find any evidence inconsistent with that position."

However, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has responded to the investigation's conclusion, saying it stands by its findings.

""Lord Coe either knew more than he suggested he did when he gave evidence to the committee, or he knew enough about the Shobukova case to have asked more questions about it within the IAAF at the time," said committee chair Damian Collins MP.

"The Committee stands by the conclusions of its 2018 report 'Combatting Doping in Sport'."

In a statement Lord Coe said: "I want to thank the ethics board for all the work they do," "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."