The opening days of the World Athletics Championships in Doha have taken place in searing heat and in front of only a handful of spectators, again raising questions over the wisdom of coming to Qatar for the games. News that the sum of 4.5 million euros was due to be paid to the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations in an agreement made just days before Qatar was awarded the right to host the event has added more controversy at a time when the IAAF, under Sebastian Coe, would welcome less attention from the global media.
While the former head of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, is in custody in France, his son, also implicated in the fraud, remains free in Senegal. The UK’s Guardian, the French media company Mediapart and the German news magazine Der Spiegel have all seen the documentary evidence of the payment agreed between the organisers and the Diacks, due to be paid in instalments, uncovered in a tranche of documents during a police raid on IAAF headquarters in Monaco.
Two years from now the World Championships will be held in Eugene, Oregon, home to Nike’s global headquarters. The running show company paid Sebastian Coe to promote the company before he became president of the IAAF four years ago. Lord Coe said at the time that he saw no conflict of interest. But the not very transparent nature of the award to the Oregonian town keeps alive the notion that vested interests are still part and parcel of decision making at the ruling body of world athletics. The Doha games end on October 6.
PHOTO: The Doha stadium IAAF