The Mail on Sunday interview made for compelling reading – pushing Coe on exactly what Nike has being paying him £90,000 a year for, while simultaneously helping land the IAAF’s 2021 World Championships for its Oregon base in the backwater town of Eugene, without having to go through a bidding process. But with its lack of contrition or public acknowledgement for the real victims, the article revealed this man’s painful lack of self-awareness. In its place comes choreography. You know and I know that Coe’s beard looks like a cultivated part of a new persona: the world-weary leader, braving the slings and arrows and bad guys all at once. But he can’t see that we can see it.
The Nike involvement threatens to stalk Coe through all his attempts to build up athletics again. Email correspondence from the office of the Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, obtained under Freedom of Information, was revealing in this respect, when shared with me at the weekend. It showed Eugene’s excitement that its attempts to persuade Brown to stump up public cash for the 2021 championships had been boosted by a one-hour meeting between her and Coe, scheduled for 10am last Thursday.
Coe cancelled the engagement, and a four-day trip to Oregon, on 8 December, six days after a parliamentary select committee took a dim view of his pecuniary relationship with Nike. The meeting would have occurred on the self-same day Pound was excoriating the IAAF. That’s how close he was to another PR disaster. In the weekend interview, he steadfastly refused to accept that receiving Nike money was a problem. “I know what is right and I know what is wrong,” he said.