Sebastian Coe accused of misleading MPs over drug claims

A university which undertook a study into athletes' violation of anti-doping regulations has claimed Coe's evidence 

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The Independent Online

Sebastian Coe, the IAAF president, has been accused by researchers of giving both “contradictory” and “untrue” evidence to a parliamentary committee hearing into doping.

Coe was grilled by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee before Christmas over the doping scandal which has engulfed athletics. Part of the questioning had centred on a study by the University in Tübingen, Germany, which claimed that between 29 and 34 per cent of the 1,800 athletes competing at the 2011 World Championships had confidentially admitted to violating anti-doping rules.

Coe appeared with IAAF anti-doping manager Thomas Capdevielle at Westminster but the university has now claimed in a letter to the committee chairman Jesse Norman MP that when the pair attended the hearing they “rejected to give clear answers to your questions why the IAAF still withholds the release of [our] study for publication in a scientific journal”.

It added: “Their statements are contradictory and, from our point of view, in parts also untrue. Further withholding the results of this study is also an enormous damage to the effects of combating doping and against scientific freedom.”

The head of the study, Professor Rolf Ulrich, said they had been negotiating with World Anti-Doping Agency lawyers for three years to have the paper released and that “it became clear that the IAAF was blocking the publication of this work”.

But a spokesman for Coe, who is in Monaco for a two-day IAAF council meeting, said: “The confusion stems from the definition of ‘published’ as at the time of the hearing the study had been published on the DCMS select committee’s website and it had been ‘rejected’ for peer review in a scientific publication.

“The IAAF has no objection to the study being published but it is not in a position to officially endorse the research as it has never received the underlying data on which the study was based. This data has been requested.”

Coe could yet be bracing himself for more negative headlines after the International Olympic Committee announced it was in the process of retesting hundreds of samples from the 2008 Olympics – from all sports – in a bid to uncover any cheats.

The IOC medical director, Dr Richard Budgett, said the aim was to make “sure that athletes who cheated back in 2008 don’t get to compete in Rio in 2016”. The results and hence any possible sanctions are expected to be made public in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, organisers of the 2017 athletics World Championships in London have been hit by their fourth board member resignation in recent weeks. Eleven-time Paralympic champion Tanni Grey-Thompson stepped down from the board two weeks ago but the move was made public only yesterday.

“For me it was just all getting a bit tokenistic and it’s not fun or interesting,” she said of her part in organising the event, which for the first time will double up as the World Championships for para-athletes.

“I don’t mind the fight – trying to challenge people about disability athletics is what I’m meant to do. But I got tired of saying ‘what about the Paralympic athletes?’ It needs to be someone else because I don’t feel I was having the impact in terms of taking that discussion on. It just felt it wasn’t the place for me to be.”

Last month, managing director Sally Bolton quit her post citing personal reasons, while previously Heather Hancock and Martin Stewart had stepped down from their positions after losing a power struggle on the board with UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner and chief executive Niels de Vos.