Lord Coe last night accused Nestle of hypocrisy and vowed to fight the decision of the Swiss-based food and drinks giant to terminate its sponsorship of crisis-hit athletics world governing body the IAAF.
Nestle argued that it feared its sponsorship of the governing body’s Kids’ Athletics programme would damage its reputation after leading IAAF officials were banned for extorting bribes from athletes in exchange for covering up doping.
But Coe, who was elected IAAF president in August 2015 after eight years as vice-president, pointed to Nestle’s continued association with the Tour de France despite cycling’s problems with doping.
“We were left confused and angry. I didn’t understand the rationale behind it,” said Coe.
“Clearly it wasn’t a decision made about reputation because, since 2001, they’ve been the global partner to the Tour de France, and renewed at a moment when cycling was in its worst position around doping. We felt this was hypocritical.”
Nestle’s decision, a year before the end of its official five-year partnership, represented the second notable backer, after sportswear company Adidas, to cease its working relationship with the IAAF.
“Our legal teams have clearly taken a view that we need to be tough about this and we will be,” added Coe. “We will pursue this strongly and vigorously because we see no sensible rationale and we don’t believe this is simply about reputational damage.”
Nestle, who have sponsored the Kids’ Athletics programme since 2012 issued a statement on Wednesday, which read: “We have decided to end our partnership with the IAAF Kids’ Athletics programme with immediate effect. This decision was taken in light of negative publicity associated with allegations of corruption and doping in sport made against the IAAF.”