IAAF president Lord Coe's right-hand man denies cover-up claim

Lord Coe has endured a crisis-ridden start to his reign as IAAF president

IAAF president Lord Coe's right-hand man has denied implementing a media strategy designed to interfere with its anti-doping procedure.

French newspaper Le Monde have obtained a copy of an email sent by Nick Davies, the former director of communications at the IAAF and now director of the president's office, in which he appears to seek to delay the identification of Russian drug cheats in the run-up to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.

The email was sent to the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, Papa Massata Diack, who worked as a marketing consultant for athletics' beleaguered world governing body, in which Davies appears to look to minimise the impact of naming Russian athletics who have failed drug tests.

Papa Massata Diack was one of the IAAF officials alleged to have covered up doping offences. His father is the focus of a police investigation amid allegations he took money to cover up positive drugs tests by Russian athletes.

Davies' email also suggests that CSM, the sport agency chaired by Coe since January 2013, could help the IAAF in an unofficial PR campaign as it could "benefit from Seb's political influence in the UK".

Davies is also reported to have said in the email that he needed to understand "what Russian 'skeleton' we have still in the cupboard regarding doping".

Davies denied any wrongdoing in a statement sent to Press Association Sport.

"As director of IAAF communications it was one of my responsibilities to manage and promote the reputation of the IAAF," he said.

"My email to the IAAF's then marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack, less than a month before the start of the Moscow World Championship, was brain storming around media handling strategies to deal with the serious challenges we were facing around the image of the event.

"No plan was implemented following that email and there is no possibility any media strategy could ever interfere with the conduct of the anti-doping process.

"I did not discuss these ideas with CSM and there has never been any agreement between the IAAF and CSM for any PR campaigns.

"CSM has never worked for the IAAF in any capacity since Sebastian Coe joined the company."

Coe was elected IAAF president in August and has found himself at the head of an organisation mired in a corruption and doping crisis.

Russia was last month banned from international athletics after a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission found evidence of systemic doping and cover-ups.

Coe came in for heavy criticism for taking so long to give up his role as a global ambassador for Nike, which he finally did last month.

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