Coe denies conflict of interests as links alleged between CSM and Dentsu
Sebastian Coe, the president of World Athletics, has denied any wrongdoing after new allegations of a conflict of interests with his position as executive chairman of international sports marketing agency CSM Sport & Entertainment.
A report by the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper highlighted claims that CSM had profited from deals with Dentsu, the Japanese advertising giant which holds commercial rights to events of World Athletics, formerly the IAAF.
This prompted John Nicolson, a member of Parliament for the Scottish National Party and of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, to call for an inquiry.
However, former British track star Coe (pictured) insisted that he has acted above board, saying: “I and my teams at World Athletics and CSM take very seriously any allegations of inappropriate conduct as both organisations have strong governance and ethical compliance processes. We are all clear of the rules and abide by them at all times.”
Concerns were raised as the terms of the contract between World Athletics and Dentsu have been renegotiated since Coe became president of track of field’s world governing body in 2015.
However, he has received backing from Niels Lindholm, World Athletics’ ethical compliance officer, who said: “Our rules are very clear about conflicts of interest. We have a world class process in place to monitor and manage any real or perceived conflicts.
“The fact that many individuals seek my advice and guidance and we discuss openly any perceived issues demonstrates that our process is understood, robust and being adhered to.”
Earlier this month, Coe, who headed up the local organising committee for the London 2012 Olympic Games, was finally nominated for membership of the International Olympic Committee.
Thomas Bach, the IOC president, stressed that this had only come about after Coe had agreed to take “a more passive role” at CSM from 1 July.
Sportcal understands Coe will transfer from executive chairman to a non-executive chairman position at the agency
Coe’s business responsibilities have given rise to conflict of interests concerns before, with the Briton having eventually ended his long-running paid ambassadorial role with US sportswear giant Nike three months after being elected World Athletics president in August 2015.
He has maintained his role at CSM, albeit did announce when he took office at World Athletics that the agency will not tender for the federation’s contracts nor work with cities bidding for its events while he is at the helm.
Ahead of his election, Coe vociferously denied any conflicts of interest, including in his role at CSM, saying that there was “no president in or seeking office who has more transparency.”
Dentsu is the worldwide marketing and licensing partner of World Athletics and sponsorship revenue secured by the agency accounted for $26.53 million, over half of the federation’s total income of $47.51 million, in 2018, according to accounts recently seen by The Sports Examiner.
The financial statements, audited by Ernst & Young, showed a loss of $19.33 million as operating expenses came to $66.84 million, with the total deficit rising to $19.55 million when losses from investments are factored in.
According to the accounts, at the end of 2018, a year without a major championships, World Athletics had total assets of $59.52 million and reserves of $45.25 million, down from $77.79 million and $64.8 million respectively in 2017.
It was noted that Dentsu income is split into two parts, with $11 million per year from commercial rights and $7 million per year from TV rights in Japan.
The extended agreement for 2020 to 2029 includes a minimum guarantee of $130 million, and a profit share element. In 2018, World Athletics received $8.4 million from Dentsu as profit share for the period of 2010 to 2017.