IAAF chief Coe says amid French inquiry that Eugene games award just

Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:13am EST
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By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - World athletics head Sebastian Coe said on Thursday the award of the 2021 championships to the U.S. city of Eugene without a bidding process was perfectly legitimate, after French prosecutors announced an investigation of the decision.

French national financial prosecutors said on Wednesday a case had been opened in response to media reports questioning the award by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which has been shaken in recent months by a wider corruption and doping scandal.

Coe, who was vice president of IAAF when the games were awarded in April, told BBC Radio Four it was not unprecedented for decisions to be made without a bidding process. Japan's Osaka was given the 2007 event in such circumstances.

"Eugene was not put forward by the IAAF but by US Track and Field," Coe said. "The Council decided this was the best opportunity in the foreseeable future to get the championships into the U.S.

"We did not have cities like Miami or Chicago falling over themselves to put themselves forward."

Eugene is closely linked to U.S. sportswear firm Nike. That connection also caused disquiet as Coe was a long-standing paid ambassador for the company.

The double Olympic champion denied there was any conflict of interest, but severed the link two weeks ago, describing "noise" around the situation as a distraction as he sought to deal with the doping and corruption crisis.


Newly elected President of International Association of Athletics Federations Sebastian Coe speaks at a news conference, in Beijing, August 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Jason Lee