A leading official of the International Association of Athletics Federations has denied allegations that he assisted to cover up Russian doping allegations two years ago.

On Monday, French newspaper Le Monde printed a potentially damning email that was sent by Nick Davies, the deputy general secretary of the International Association of Athletics Associations, in 2013. This email was sent to Papa Massata Diack – the son of disgraced former president Lamine Diack and it appeared that Davies was aware that the world governing body of athletics was covering up Russian doping.

In the email, Davies, who was appointed as right-hand man to IAAF president Lord Coe this autumn, allegedly discusses the presence of “Russian skeletons in the cupboard”. The email also had Davies talking about how to reveal names of potential dopers without affecting the forthcoming 2013 World Championships in Moscow. The email, which was allegedly sent by Davies, revealed he had already had some thoughts following discussion with Papa Massata Diack earlier and believed that they need to do the following, in the strict confidence and control within a small circle of senior IAAF staff only and this must be very secret. Davies is also alleged to have written that he needs to be able to sit down with the anti-doping department and understand exactly what Russian ‘skeletons’ we have still in the cupboard regarding doping.

The email continued that he thinks that the time to have unveiled the various athletes was a long time ago and that now we need to be smart. It was further added that we can prepare a special dossier on IAAF testing which will show that one of the reasons why these Russian athletes come up positive is that they get tested a lot. This email also appeared to show that the right-hand man to IAAF president Lord Coe suggesting the use of a sports marketing firm chaired by Sebastian Coe (CSM) for dealing with negative stories in the build-up to the 2013 World Championships.

Replying to the alleged email content, Davies said it was one of his responsibilities as director of IAAF communications to manage and promote the reputation of the IAAF. Davies also commented that his email to the IAAF’s then marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack, less than a month before the start of the Moscow World Championships, was brainstorming around media handling strategies to deal with the serious challenges we were facing. Davies also said that 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.

Last month, Russia was banned from international athletics after a system of state-sponsored doping was uncovered by a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission. The Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published the results of its probe into the activity of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), and the Russian Sports Ministry on November 9 this year. The Russian government now wants to reorganize the previously independent Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory into a federal state budget-financed institution with the Ministry of Sport to oversee its work.

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