By Karolos Grohmann
(Reuters) – The presidents of world soccer and world athletics are set to be snubbed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) next month when the body is likely to again overlook them for membership, a source told Reuters on Monday.
Neither FIFA chief Gianni Infantino nor IAAF counterpart Sebastian Coe are expected to be proposed for IOC membership despite taking up their posts two and three years ago respectively, the source said.
For years, membership of the IOC for the heads of soccer and athletics was seen as almost automatic.
But the two international federations – among the Olympics’ most popular sports – have been left out in the cold as they struggled with widespread corruption and doping scandals which tarnished their images.
“My understanding is they will not be recommended,” a source with knowledge of the membership procedure ahead of the IOC session in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month, told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The IOC elects new members at its annual session with the list of proposed names being published a few days before the vote
Now, another snub of two of the world’s biggest sports federations who held IOC seats for decades before their current leadership, will do little to mend ties that have been strained by the ongoing corruption and doping investigations.
The source said the IOC had discussed the matter of Infantino and Coe, and a final decision had yet to be taken but they were “unlikely” to be proposed for membership.
Infantino was elected head of FIFA in February 2016 to succeed scandal-plagued Sepp Blatter and lead the federation out of its biggest graft crisis.
Former double Olympic champion Coe took over the IAAF in August 2015 against a backdrop of doping and corruption among the organization’s most senior officials, severely damaging the organization’s credibility.
Coe’s predecessor Lamine Diack is currently facing a bribery and embezzlement investigation in France while his son, Papa Massata Diack is banned for life from the sport.
Coe triggered the ire of the IOC when the IAAF blocked Russian track and field athletes from competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics over the doping affair.
The IAAF banned the Russian athletics federation team, with only one athlete, who lived, trained and was tested in the united States allowed to compete in Rio. The IOC, however, left it to individual federations to clear Russians to compete in their sports at the Games.
Both Blatter and Diack were IOC members until 2015. Blatter’s predecessor at FIFA, Joao Havelange, was an IOC member from 1963 to 2011. Diack’s predecessor, Primo Nebiolo, also became an IOC member shortly after his election in 1999.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond/Ossian Shine/Mitch Phillips)