Here’s the story on the $400K in well-timed Nike and UO donations, by Saul Hubbard in the RG:
Phil Knight, Nike poured cash into Gov. Kitzhaber’s campaign coffers as he weighed request for state money for Eugene world track championship
Knight, Nike, UO officials gave nearly $400,000 to Kitzhaber in six-week period; UO says no “quid pro quo”
The 2016 session of the Oregon Legislature starts Monday. Given the news about Putin’s hush money and brown envelopes, UO lobbyist Hans Bernard has dropped UO’s plan to ask for $40M to pay for the “IAAF Family’s” hotel rooms and meals – #3 on the list of legislative priorities Bernard showed to the UO Board in December:
Instead he’s found some legislators willing to replace it with a stealth increase in the hotel tax that doesn’t mention the 2021 IAAF track meet. How’s that for transparency?
Meanwhile, the Swedes are calling out the IAAF’s Lord Sebastian Coe for refusing to fess up to the possibility that there was anything corrupt about awarding the 2021 championships to Eugene. Ian Herbert has the report in the British paper The Independent, here, complete with an interview with Camilla Nyman, chief executive of the Gothenburg tourism board:
Sebastian Coe will tell you, in that articulate and erudite way of his, that it was perfectly acceptable to award the 2021 World Athletics Championships – his organisation’s blue riband event – to Eugene: the town synonymous with the sportswear company which until recently paid him £100,000 a year for a “social engagement” role which he has not been terribly specific about.
A new cache of emails made available through Freedom of Information legislation reveal what a catastrophe the decision was, though, and nowhere is the lack of rigour more visible than in the letter sent by the Oregon state Governor, Kate Brown, to the then International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president, Lamine Diack, in advance of Eugene, home of Nike, getting the nod. “I give you my personal commitment to apply all my powers and means to obtain the financial and legislative support in order to provide the funding necessary for the championships’ success in Oregon,” she writes.
… So Gothenburg carried on working and planning and waited on news from an IAAF conference for national federations. It was from there, “at just before midnight” on the eve of the event, as Nyman recalls it, that she received an email from a Swedish Athletic Federation representative to say that “something is going on,” that “the rules have changed” and Eugene may be gifted it. No one at the Swedish end knows whether money or personal connections brought the sudden change in the picture. None of the Swedes we have spoken to were asked to provide brown envelopes, though the bidding process had not even started at that stage.
Within 24 hours it was being announced that Eugene had been awarded the 2021 event and that there would, indeed, be no bidding process. Gothenburg were advised by some of their associates to find lawyers to prove that the IAAF’s actions had been constitutionally illegal but they decided against it, for fear of “making enemies everywhere”, as Nyman puts it. Ironic, in the light of what we now know about Diack.
The story notes that it was this email that broke open the 2021 scandal, obtained by the RG’s Diane Dietz from UO, but only after the Lane County DA ordered UO’s Public Records Office to release it:
I’m guessing UO and the UO Foundation and Track Town have a lot more of this on their servers, and perhaps those emails will come to light eventually.
Meanwhile, although Gothenburg’s politicians seem relieved to wash their hands of the IAAF, the British press and Parliament are going after IAAF President and House of Lords member Seb Coe like a hound-dog goes after a tick. Reuters reports that Coe has put out a half-assed denial of reports that he knew about the cash filled envelopes used in the bidding for the 2017 championships.
“Sebastian Coe had no actual knowledge of bribes being offered or received linked to the 2017 World Championship,” the spokesman told Reuters.
Parliament may call him back to explain what he means by “actual knowledge”.
While organizing committee for the London 2017 games is reportedly considering taking the IAAF logo off all the publicity material, fearing that guilt by association with the IAAF and Putin will cut into ticket sales, here in Oregon the politicians are saying this will be “good for our brand”. Sure.
1/24/2016: IAAF too dirty for Adidas