UK Sport provides money from its international relations budget to promote British sports leaders bid for positions in world organisations, and it covered the cost of the Vero Communications consultancy of £52,000 plus VAT which was part of Coe’s bid to take over the leadership of world athletics.
Coe is under increasing pressure to sever his ties with Nike, but a spokesman for the IAAF president said the sportswear giant provided no funding for his campaign. The UK Sport contribution covered one third of the cost, with the remaining money being raised privately.
Coe is believed to earn around £100,000 a year as a Nike ambassador but has faced calls to cut links with the company due to possible conflicts of interest arising. He is facing questions over the IAAF’s decision in April to award the 2021 world championships to Eugene, in the United States – which is closely linked to sportswear giant Nike – without a bidding process, despite strong interest from Swedish city Gothenburg.
Coe, who was elected IAAF president in August, has denied doing any lobbying on behalf of Eugene.
He is, however, due to be grilled about his Nike connection by MPs on the culture, media and sport select committee next week.
He has previously said he would review all his business arrangements within 100 days of taking office on August 31 – and that deadline falls on December 9, a week after the select committee hearing.
Committee member Damian Collins believes the peer should cut his ties.
He said: “I’ve called into question whether Lord Coe faces a conflict of interest, given his commercial relationship with Nike, around his role in helping deliver the world athletics championships to Eugene, Oregon – the home of the sportswear company.”
UK Sport said in a statement: “UK Sport invests into the international relations strategies of our national governing bodies to help ensure that the UK is in an influential position to drive good governance, leadership and development in international sport.
“In light of the challenges that international sporting federations are currently facing, it is more important than ever that the UK is nominating people into leadership positions where they can effect change.”
Coe is due to appear at a news conference in Monaco on Thursday night where he is expected to give further details on reforms and the inspection process for the Russian athletics federation ARAF, which is banned from international competition following the doping scandal which rocked the sport.