Will Bribes sink London Bid?
Exclusive by Andrew Jennings
Sunday November 6, 2011
A bribes scandal threatens hopes that London will be awarded the 2017 World Athletics Championships, the third largest international sports event after the Olympics and the World Cup.
Lord Coe and his bid team will know that the decision at a meeting next Friday in Monaco may be swayed by powerful International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack from Senegal.
Mr Diack, a member of the International Olympic Committee, is under investigation by the IOC’s Ethics Commission for allegedly taking bribes from a Swiss company when it had the exclusive marketing contract for the IAAF Championships.
Qatar denies bribes
London’s rivals for 2017 are Doha, capital of Qatar, who have denied, vigorously, allegations that they bribed FIFA officials in their successful campaign to host the 2022 Football World Cup. Their current bid is described as ‘well-funded.’
Last year the IAAF’s World Indoor Championships were staged in Doha. The Qatari bid team have announced that if successful, they will stage the World Championships in 2017 at a later than usual date in September in the climate-controlled Khalifa Stadium to avoid the sweltering summer heat. Long-distance events like the marathon will be run at night. Mr Diack has already approved this change from the traditional date in August.
Qatar’s Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said, ‘We have successfully hosted the World Indoor Championships and enjoy a strong bond with the IAAF.’
Last year BBC Panorama obtained a secret list of bribes totalling $100 million paid to sports officials, many from FIFA, by the now defunct ISL marketing company in return for lucrative contracts.
Diack does a runner
The list also shows that on 22 April 1993 Mr Diack, who was then senior vice-president of the IAAF, was paid $20,000 in cash and on July 23 the same year another $10,000, also in cash. On November 19 1993, he allegedly received a further 30,000 French Francs – then worth around $11,500.
In April this year, at the SportAccord conference at London’s Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, I attempted to ask Mr Diack, aged 78, about the bribes allegations. When I introduced myself in the lobby he broke into a run, raced up the escalator to the first floor and summoned a lift. I caught up and asked him to comment on the bribes allegations and why some were paid in cash. Mr Diack was silent and eventually disappeared into a lift.
In August, on the eve of his re-election as IAAF president, Mr Diack, married with 15 children, reportedly admitted that last April the IOC’s Ethics Commission had written to him about the allegations. ‘I answered to the Ethics Commission and I had no more reaction from them,’ he said. ’That put an end to that.’
Deadline in December
Last Tuesday IOC President Jacques Rogge announced that at the end of the first week in December his executive board will consider the results of the 10-month long investigation.
AP reported Rogge saying, ‘The ethics commission has done an inquiry, (it) will present a report in early December. We don't know what is in the report because it is strict confidential. The report will not necessarily propose decisions. It might be an information only. I don't know. We will see.’
Also under investigation for taking ISL kickbacks are IOC members FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou from Cameroun and former FIFA president, Brazil’s Joao Havelange. His former son-in-law Ricardo Teixeira, not an IOC member but a member of FIFA’s ruling executive committee, is under investigation by Brazilian Federal Police for money-laundering and tax evasion in connection with allegedly receiving $9.5 million from the ISL company channelled through a Liechtenstein company.
Former ISL insiders have also claimed that former IAAF president Primo Nebiolo received considerable kickbacks from the ISL company. He died in 1999 and was succeeded by Mr Diack who then joined the IOC.
Has Seb Coe told Cameron?
The meeting next Friday will be shown a video of Prime Minister David Cameron endorsing London’s bid. Promoting the bid in Monaco will be bid leader Lord Coe, Sports Minister Hugh Robertson and London mayor Boris Johnson. If they have been made aware of the IOC bribes investigation into Mr Diack they must fear a repeat of the humiliation last year when England’s bid to stage the 2018 World Cup received a miserable two votes from FIFA’s leaders.
Lord Coe heads the 2017 bid in a coalition made up of UK Athletics, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, UK Sport and London & Partners, who are the London Mayor's promotional agency. Many tip Lord Coe to replace Mr Diack when he steps down as IAAF president.
Independent on Sunday, November 6, 2011