The controversial decision to award the 2021 track and field world championships to Eugene is now being investigated by the FBI and criminal division of the IRS, according to a report from BBC.
Eugene won their bid to host the championships in 2015, and will be the first U.S. city to ever host the competition. But controversy swirled soon after the award was announced, after parts of the usual bidding process were skipped by the IAAF, track and field’s international governing body.
The FBI and the criminal division of the IRS are investigating if the U.S. committed any wrongdoing during the bidding process.
Former TrackTown USA head and current USA Track and Field president Vin Lannana headed the bid for Eugene. Lananna and Tracktown USA have heavy ties to Nike.
According to the BBC’s report, Lannana received an email from Nike executive Craig Masback that suggested that IAAF president Sebastian Coe lobbied for Eugene, and mentioned former IAAF president Lamine Diack, who visited prior to the vote. Coe, who became IAAF’s president after Diack was accused of corruption, has been on Nike’s payroll in the past.
The email, obtained by the BBC, stated:
“I spoke with Seb this morning. We covered several topics but I asked specifically about 2021. He made clear his support for 2021 in Eugene but made equally clear he had reached out to Diack specifically on this topic and got a clear statement from Diack that ‘I am not going to take any action at the April meeting (in Beijing) to choose a 2021 site.'”
Eugene lost its bid for the 2019 World Championships, which was awarded to Doha, Qatar.
Earlier on Wednesday, the USATF announced that the 2020 track and field Olympic trials will be held in Walnut, Calif. rather than in Eugene or Sacramento.
University of Oregon continues to move forward with its plans for a Hayward Field renovation and expansion to 30,000 seats, which is part of the deal to host the world championships in Eugene.
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