Gothenburg's Eriksson says Eugene decision must be investigated

Wed Nov 25, 2015 4:47pm EST
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By Mitch Phillips

MONACO (Reuters) - The man who led Gothenburg's bid to host the 2021 world athletics championships says he is still waiting for a plausible explanation of how the event was awarded to Eugene, Oregon, and is concerned at suggestions that Sebastian Coe lobbied for the American city.

Former Swedish Athletics Association head Bjorn Eriksson told Reuters the decision to go with Eugene without allowing Gothenburg to present its case, taken after prompting from the world federation's then-president Lamine Diack, showed an "unacceptable lack of morals and transparency".

Coe, who was a vice president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) at the time of the vote and is now its president, has been questioned about a potential conflict of interest due to his paid role for Nike, the sportswear firm with strong links to Eugene. He has denied lobbying for Eugene.

"It all sounds very odd. I have protested the whole time about the unethical nature of it and I am of the understanding that more investigating needs to be done," Eriksson told Reuters in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

"My worry is that there is money involved here, and I am not referring to Sebastian Coe here, rather the whole system."

Coe told the BBC that he had expected a normal bidding process until, Coe said, Diack told a meeting of the IAAF Council in April that there were "political and financial considerations in terms of the way the funding package came together for Eugene that may not be present again and we should award 2021 to Eugene".

Diack, whom Coe succeeded in August, is now under investigation by French police on suspicion of doping-related corruption. His family have dismissed the accusations as excessive and insignificant.