Lord Coe steps down as Nike ambassador

Lord Coe said that perception and reality had become 'horribly mangled'. Picture: AP
Lord Coe said that perception and reality had become 'horribly mangled'. Picture: AP
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Lord Coe has stepped down from his ambassadorial role with Nike, the IAAF president has announced.

The head of world athletics’ governing body made the announcement at a press conference in Monaco that he had cut his ties with the American sportswear giant.

“It is clear that perception and reality have become horribly mangled. I have stepped down from the Nike position I have held for 38 years,” he said.

Coe has come under increasing pressure to end his association with Nike - his ambassadorial role was believed to be worth around £100,000 a year - due to possible conflicts of interest arising.

His decision comes two days after allegations surfaced the Coe lobbied for Eugene to host the 2021 World Championships. The American city has close links with Nike and was awarded the championships without a bidding process, despite strong interest from Swedish city Gothenburg.

Coe, who said his decision was not a reaction to those claims, added: “The current noise level around this role is not good for the IAAF and for Nike. It is a distraction to the 18-hour days that I and my teams are working to steady the ship.”

The news came as Russia vowed yesterday to work “very actively” with track and field’s governing body to eradicate the doping culture that led to its blanket ban from international competition.

Russia’s athletics federation has said it will contest the ban - the move suggests Lord Coe’s hardline stance against Russia is producing early results. Lord Coe first pushed the IAAF council to sanction Russia for systematic, state-sponsored doping identified by a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation.

The council then voted 22-1 on 13 November to provisionally suspend ARAF, the Russian athletics federation, barring it from international competition.

To be reinstated, Russia will now have to clear numerous hurdles, not only sanctioning athletes and others who doped or were complicit in cheating and cover-ups but also carrying out a series of reforms.

It will have to satisfy an IAAF inspection commission that it has ticked all the boxes required to be allowed back into the fold.

In a letter to the IAAF, the general secretary of ARAF, Mikhail Butov, said: “We are working very hard now in Russia to change a lot.

“We will cooperate with (the) nominated commission very actively. I hope for a positive result after (a) certain time.”