By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – Three senior athletics officials have had their provisional suspension from the sport extended by the IAAF’s Ethics Board as it continues its investigation into their alleged involvement in a suspected cover-up of Russian doping cases.
Nick Davies, who was chief-of-staff to International Association of Athletics Federations president Seb Coe, was initially suspended along with his wife Jane Boulter-Davies and IAAF medical manager Pierre-Yves Garnier in June.
On Wednesday the Ethics Board issued a statement saying the suspensions had been extended until Jan. 31 2017 “to allow for the conclusion of the disciplinary investigative process, including any hearing ensuing from the investigations.”
Davies stood down from his role last December pending the investigation into a “potential breach of the IAAF’s code of ethics”.
The Ethics Board statement on Wednesday added: “Each of the three individuals continue to enjoy the presumption of innocence and the extension of the orders for provisional suspension should not be interpreted as any departure from the principle that each individual is to be considered innocent until the conclusion of the disciplinary investigative process.”
The investigations relate to an email reportedly sent by former IAAF consultant Papa Massata Diack to his father, the then-IAAF president Lamine Diack, in July 2013 that allegedly showed the three suspended IAAF officials were in receipt of, or had knowledge of, a cash payment to withhold details of attempted cover-ups of Russian doping cases.
Other emails leaked earlier this year showed Davies had discussed with Papa Diack developing a media strategy to limit the news impact of a series of positive tests by Russian athletes ahead of the 2013 Moscow world athletics championships.
Davies said that the mail was merely “brainstorming for a media strategy” and that he had done nothing wrong.
Last month he told the Daily Mail: “I was conned and never for a second was I told, or thought, this money was to ensure cover-ups of doping in Russia. That would have been abhorrent to me.
“I thought I could trust Lamine Diack and it was my job to promote and protect the image of the IAAF and the World Championships. I was never mixed up or aware of the criminal activities which are now in the public domain.”
French authorities are investigating Lamine Diack and Papa Diack on charges of corruption and money laundering. Papa Diack has denied any involvement in bribery or corruption and says his father Lamine is also innocent.
At the time of the initial suspensions in June, the Ethics Board said that Davies, a former IAAF general secretary and head of communications, received an undisclosed cash payment in 2013 from Papa Massata Diack, “the circumstances and concealment of which call into question whether the payment was intended to have and/or in fact produced any manipulative effect.”
Boulter-Davies allegedly received, or knew about, a payment to Davies. Garnier allegedly received an undisclosed cash payment at the direction of Lamine Diack and “retained some part of the sum even when aware of its apparent impropriety”.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)