BERLIN, March 22 (Reuters) - The head of European athletics has called on Frank Fredericks to step down from the world athletics’ (IAAF) federation council pending an investigation into allegations he accepted payments before the awarding of the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.
A statement issued on Wednesday by Svein Arne Hansen, who does not name Fredericks but clearly refers to his case, comes a day after IAAF president Sebastian Coe said the Namibian would stay on the council while the ethics board decides if an investigation is necessary.
“In recent weeks the IAAF Council has been confronted with new and disturbing integrity-linked accusations related to one of its members,” Hansen said in his statement on Wednesday.
“In my personal opinion, any individual who finds themselves under such suspicion now or in the future should step aside from all their sport-related duties until the issue is resolved as it is not good for the organisation they serve.”
As well as being in charge of European Athletics, Hansen, like Fredericks, is an IAAF Council member.
“I want to emphasise that in the current case we are dealing with allegations and must always presume innocence until they are proven,” Hansen added.
“However, should the allegations turn out to be true, they would reveal an extremely disappointing betrayal of athletics and its values, which would damage the sport’s image in the eyes of its supporters and the public.”
Former sprinter Fredericks, an International Olympic Committee member, stepped down two weeks ago as head of the IOC team evaluating bids to host the 2024 Games and has also removed himself from the IAAF task force looking into doping in Russia.
French newspaper Le Monde had reported that Fredericks received almost $300,000 from Papa Massata Diack, the son of disgraced former IAAF President Lamine Diack, prior to the election of Rio as the 2016 Olympics hosts back in 2009.
Fredericks has said he received the money but denied any wrongdoing, saying it was for “services rendered” to promote the sport in Africa and had nothing to do with the Rio vote.
The IOC has also launched an investigation into the matter.
French prosecutors are investigating whether bribery was involved in the awarding of the 2021 world athletics championships to the U.S. city of Eugene and are also looking into several other host city decisions. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Ken Ferris)