Sebastian Coe defends Eugene World Championships award

IAAF president Sebastian Coe has defended the decision to stage the 2021 World Athletics Championships in Eugene amid reports that French prosecutors are investigating the matter.

The BBC on Wednesday revealed that French authorities are probing the governing body’s decision to select the United States city for the event without a bidding process.

Gothenburg had expressed an interest, but a unanimous vote of 23-1 went in the favour of Eugene.

Coe last month denied claims he lobbied for the event to be staged there amid allegations of a conflict of interest.

Eugene is closely associated with sports manufacturer Nike, for whom Coe was an ambassador before he stepped down from that role in order to “focus unflinchingly” on his position at the IAAF.

Coe on Thursday reiterated that there was nothing untoward with process that led to the decision over the 2021 hosts.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “First, it”s not without precedent. We’ve selected cities without bidding cycles before.

“Second, Eugene was not put forward by the IAAF, it was put forward by United States Track and Field… the best opportunity in the foreseeable future to get world athletics into the United States.”

Coe also took the opportunity to again explain why he opted to sever his ties with Nike.

He added: “I made it very clear when I became president of the IAAF that everything I did is under review.

“I made a judgement to step down from the Nike role because there was too much noise and distraction around challenges I already have.

“There are two distinct separate issues. Trust in the governing body, but also trust on the track. I represent a sport under serious scrutiny and we’ve got to return trust.”

French officials are already investigating former IAAF president Lamine Diack amid allegations of corruption, with the 82-year-old suspected of receiving money to defer charges against Russian doping cheats.