MP wants answers from Coe on CSM role before IOC membership conferred
A member of the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee is calling for Sebastian Coe’s proposed elevation to the International Olympic Committee to be put on hold until he has made clear that there will not be a conflict of interest with his position at international agency CSM Sport & Entertainment.
Earlier this month, British official Coe, the president of World Athletics, was finally nominated to become a member of the IOC after providing assurances that he would take “a passive position” at London-based CSM where he is presently executive chairman.
However, his multiple roles have again come under the spotlight after the UK’s Daily Telegraph 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.
Coe and World Athletics insist he has acted within the rules since becoming president of the federation in 2015.
However, John Nicolson, a member of Parliament for the Scottish National Party and who sits on the DCMS committee, is demanding more details.
He told the newspaper: “He should not be invited to take up the post [at the IOC] until he’s answered in full the questions raised by the Telegraph Sport investigation. In particular the IOC mentions that it wants him to demonstrate that his involvement is ‘passive’. I look forward to hearing from him to establish how he can be passive and also take a salary.”
Nicolson has already called for a Parliamentary inquiry into the matter.
Following a recent executive board meeting, IOC president Thomas Bach confirmed that Coe was one of five candidates proposed for membership of the organisation, and “has committed himself to change his status within the company CSM… to a passive position.”
The necessary documentation has to be provided to the IOC ethics commission by 1 July.
Sportcal understands Coe, who was previously head of the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympics, will transition to a non-executive chairman position at CSM.
The IOC has reiterated the situation in a statement, which reads: “The IOC Executive Board took the decision to put forward the candidature subject to Lord Coe delivering assurances/information on conflict of interest situations to the satisfaction of the IOC Ethics Commission.
“This includes the change of status in the sports consulting company CSM from the managing director to a non-active position and to forgo any compensation from CSM’s work with the IOC.”
Concerns have been raised over a conflict of interests between Coe’s roles at World Athletics and CSM as terms of the contract with Dentsu have been renegotiated since he became president of track and field's governing body five years ago.
However, the former track star insists 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.”
He was backed by 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.”
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.”