Lord Coe to be grilled over doping scandal and Nike links

Lord Coe's role as a Nike ambassador has been questioned by former long jumper Jade Johnson. Picture: PA
Lord Coe's role as a Nike ambassador has been questioned by former long jumper Jade Johnson. Picture: PA
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The pressure on Lord Coe is set to intensify with the International Association of Athletics Federations president to be grilled by MPs on his handling of 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.

Collins said: “I am going to ask him about that.

“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. We are also going to ask about the process of how the IAAF has handled this doping scandal.”

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.”

Former Great Britain long-jumper Jade Johnson said that possible conflicts of interest with Nike meant Coe should quit as a brand ambassador.

Johnson said: “When you’re in bed with a company like Nike, who for me don’t have a problem sponsoring one of the most renowned cheats in our sport at the moment, Justin Gatlin, that to build trust and to show integrity and transparency that [Coe leaving his role as ambassador] is one of the first things he needs to do ASAP.”

Gatlin, the American sprinter, has twice served doping bans but returned to the sport to win 100 metres bronze at the London 2012 Olympics and was second to Usain Bolt in the World Championships in Beijing in August this year.

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, which has also seen former IAAF president Lamine Diack investigated by French police on suspicion of receiving more than 1million euros to cover up positive drugs tests.

Robertson pointed 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.

“I think the IAAF has done the right thing by giving the Russians until the weekend to respond. They will have a look at that response and the evidence and they have not ruled out excluding them from international competition.”