By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – David Bedford, the former director of the London Marathon, said on Tuesday he was “surprised and disappointed” that IAAF President Sebastian Coe had not read an email he sent warning of the Russian doping scandal.
Bedford, a former 10,000m world record holder, told a British Parliamentary Committee that he thought it strange that Coe would have instead forwarded the 2014 mail and unread attachments directly to the IAAF’s Ethics Commission.
“I didn’t ask him to do that. And I guess, like you, I find it strange that he did that, Bedford, 67, told the hearing into combating doping in sport.
“When I heard that he hadn’t opened them (the email’s attachments), it’s fair to say I was very surprised and quite disappointed.”
Bedford, however, declined to say whether he believed Coe’s claim, which he told the same Committee in December 2015.
“I don’t think it matters if I believe him or not,” he said after being pressed on the issue several times. “I was surprised that he said that and that goes some way to answering that question.”
Bedford, one of the greats of British distance running and one of the driving forces behind the London Marathon since its inception in 1981, sent Coe details of how Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova had sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IAAF to cover up positive doping tests.
Coe, an IAAF vice-president at the time, says he sent the mails to the Ethics Commission without opening the attachments.
After Tuesday’s hearing, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee announced that it had recalled Coe to appear before the end of the month.
“David Bedford gave very measured evidence but it raised clear and important questions over the timing and extent of Lord Coe’s knowledge of these allegations, and what action he took about them, especially in light of the evidence he gave to us in December 2015,” Damian Collins, Chair of the Committee, said.
The IAAF responded to Tuesday’s hearing by saying the evidence offered nothing new to the inquiry.
“All information including the emails central to their questioning today were sent to their committee chair in June 2016 and acknowledged. Based upon this Coe has no further information he can provide to the inquiry,” the IAAF said in a statement that included a copy of Coe’s email forwarding Bedford’s to the Ethics Committee.
“As we have previously confirmed, Coe’s number one priority was to ensure that the right people in the right place were aware of any allegations and were investigating them. This was confirmed when his office forwarded the emails to the man Coe trusted the most, Michael Beloff the chair of the then recently established IAAF Ethics Commission.”
(Editing by: Toby Davis)