International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe tonight claimed he is “angered and dismayed” by multinational food company Nestlé’s decision to withdraw its sponsorship of the governing body’s Kids Athletics programme in the wake of the current doping crisis engulfing the sport.
Coe, who has endured a tumultuous tenure at the head of the world governing body since being elected last August, has blasted Nestlé’s choice to end their agreement with the body.
They had claimed it "could adversely affect our reputation and image".
The double Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist said: "Angered and dismayed by today’s kids’ athletics announcement.
"We will not accept it.
"It’s the kids who will suffer.”
The Swiss company, founded in 1905, had been a partner of the IAAF initiative since 2012 but have decided to end its five-year €2 million (£1.5 million/$2.2 million) agreement 12 months early due to the ongoing scandal plaguing the organisation.
They made the announcement in a statement released earlier today.
“We have decided to end our partnership with the IAAF Kids programme with immediate effect,” they said.
“This is our decision given the negative public perception regarding corruption allegations and doping in sport against the IAAF.
“We believe that this could adversely affect our reputation and image and therefore have terminated the existing contract.
“We have the IAAF informed of our decision and are waiting for a formal confirmation that our partnership has ended.”
The IAAF claimed it is an unfair targeting of one of their most important development projects.
They suspect Nestlé's decision is financially motivated.
"The IAAF is in discussion with Nestlé concerning the final year of its five year partnership with IAAF Kids’ Athletics," a statement from the governing body had said.
"This has been a successful programme with 15 million kids aged seven to 12 years in 76 countries taking part in fun team activities which promotes a healthy, active life style.
"In 2016 IAAF Kids Athletics plans to reach a further 15 countries, training 360 lecturers, instructing 8640 Physical Education teachers, with three million children participating by the end of the activation."
Last month it was reported that Adidas had terminated their sponsorship agreement with the IAAF, worth $33 million (£23 million/€30 million) over an 11-year period, four years early in the wake of the doping crisis.
Soon after the Germany company reportedly ended their deal with athletics’ world governing body, reports in Spain claimed they were set to sign a record-breaking shirt sponsorship agreement with Real Madrid, the world’s richest football club, worth £1 billion ($1.4 billion/€1.3 billion).
The withdrawal of the two sponsors came after the World Anti-Doping Agency Independent Commission published reports into doping in athletics.
The first alleged the presence of a state-supported doping scheme in Russia, leading to the suspension of the All-Russia Athletic Federation, while the second claimed corruption was embedded within the IAAF.
It accused former President Lamine Diack, who was succeeded by Britain’s Sebastian Coe in August, of being "responsible for organising and enabling the conspiracy and corruption that took place in the IAAF”.
Papa Massata Diack, Valentin Balakhnichev and Alexei Melnikov have been banned from athletics for life by the IAAF Ethics Commission after it ruled they were part of a blackmail plot that covered up Russian doping failures.
They have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.