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Lord Coe's athletics role could be at risk over 'disturbing' claims - MP

Published 17/06/2016

IAAF president Lord Coe is embroiled in fresh controversy
IAAF president Lord Coe is embroiled in fresh controversy

Lord Coe's position as IAAF president could be at risk over "very, very disturbing" allegations about his knowledge of Russia's doping problems, a senior MP has suggested.

Conservative Jesse Norman, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the "jury is out" on whether he has confidence in Lord Coe in his current role.

Mr Norman added he expects the Tory peer to return before the committee to answer further questions, with an apology to Parliament among the potential measures available if it is shown he misled Parliament.

An investigation by the BBC's Panorama programme has claimed Lord Coe may have misled Parliament in 2015 about what he knew, and when, about the doping scandal.

The IAAF has said Lord Coe was right to pass on to the ethics commission information he received in 2014 about allegations of a plot to blackmail a Russian athlete over blood results.

It said the panel told Lord Coe it was already aware of the allegations which were being ''actively investigated'', so left the case with them.

Mr Norman told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: " I'd say it's almost certain we'll want to have Lord Coe back in front of the committee, I don't want to get too far ahead of where the committee is going to be, but these are very serious matters.

"I think when Lord Coe appeared in front of the committee in December his answers were very general ones in many ways, specifically on this issue to my colleague (Labour MP) Ian Lucas, and the idea he received this email and, as I understand from his account, not have opened it having been associated with the IAAF in a senior position at that point for six years, and aware of the possibility of individual cases of dishonesty and corruption, is very, very disturbing."

Asked if he has confidence in Lord Coe in his current role, Mr Norman replied: "I think that the jury is out as matters presently stand.

"Competence is one thing, confidence is another thing and part of that would also be to assess whether he's giving the IAAF the leadership that he has promised.

"Now, that may all be swept away if the committee comes to the view that there's been some issue of misleading Parliament here."

On what action could be taken against Lord Coe, Mr Norman noted: "Lord Coe is a member of Parliament himself.

"The actions that any parliamentary committee have are limited in this regard but it'd certainly be a matter for the Speaker and no doubt if it was shown that he had misled Parliament he would want to apologise and make proper redress."

Mr Norman said he did not want to be drawn on Lord Coe's future as IAAF president when it was suggested it would be difficult for the Olympic gold medallist to stay in his job in those circumstances.

Mr Norman said: "I'm not going to get drawn on that, let's see where we end up, but that's certainly the situation as I understand it."

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