Belfast Telegraph

Lord Coe under pressure to sever his links with Nike

By Martyn Ziegler

The pressure on Lord Coe is set to intensify with the IAAF president to be grilled by MPs on his handling of the athletics' doping scandal and his links with sportswear giant Nike.

Coe is expected to appear before the culture, media and sport select committee before Christmas to answer questions on the crisis which has seen Russia implicated in "state-sponsored" doping and Coe's predecessor arrested.

The 59-year-old Coe, who has taken some flak over the IAAF's role in the scandal, will also be quizzed about continuing as a Nike brand ambassador. It has been raised as an area for possible conflicts of interest - if for example the company also sponsors drugs cheats.

Committee member Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, confirmed he would ask Coe, who is also chairman of the British Olympic Association, about his continuing Nike connections.

He said: "If athletics is going to have a new clean image it can't be right for the president of the IAAF to be sponsored by Nike. Seb Coe should give up his role as a Nike ambassador.

A spokesperson for the IAAF said: "Seb Coe and other colleagues from the IAAF have agreed to give evidence to the select committee under their remit of looking into anti-doping but a date is yet to be fixed."

Coe declared he "won't fail" to clean up the sport when questioned at a Microsoft event in London yesterday.

He said: "I won't fail, but I also accept that this is a huge journey.

"This isn't six weeks to fit thighs. This is a long journey and we have to start somewhere, and I know what I have to do.

"It's actually just nice to be here for some distraction."

Coe said he was determined to tackle the crisis, and would back his own instincts in the fight to rebuild his sport's reputation.

"You have to back your own instincts," he said. "I have to do this without fear or favour, and I fully accept that I may not even be around when the full fruits of what I need to do are probably going to be recognised.

"But I will do that now and I'm going to back my own instincts, and every day I'm going to remind myself why I walked into that athletics club at the age of 11 and the things that people did to help me along the way.

"I want to make sure I'm surrounded by people on that journey who are not just simply there because they've got a plastic accreditation around their neck, get the best seats in the stadium, and have courtesy cars take them everywhere.

"I've got to make the journey with people that I really know are absolutely, at their core, lovers of my sport."

He said he launched a review the day after he won the IAAF presidency.

"Clearly in light of what has emerged in the last week I've accelerated that and I know the people that I will make this journey with," Coe added.

Former sports minister Sir Hugh Robertson, the vice-chairman of the BOA, said Coe was the right person to lead athletics out of the crisis.

Pointing out that Coe has been in favour of lifetime bans for drugs cheats he said: "I believe 100 per cent that Seb Coe is the man to sort this out, because of his record generally as an athlete and as a sports administrator, and his strong stance against doping throughout his career."

Belfast Telegraph


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