Sebastian Coe, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), has expressed his anger at Nestlé’s decision to end its sponsorship of the scandal-ridden organisation. He says the IAAF will “not accept it”.
The Swiss food and drinks giant announced on Wednesday it would end its youth athletics partnership with the IAAF, reportedly worth $1 million (CHF 974,300) a year, because of scandal surrounding running sports.
But in a statement, the IAAF president expressed his disappointment.
"Angered and dismayed by today's kids' athletics announcement. We will not accept it. It's the kids who will suffer," said Coe.
Nestlé said they were concerned that scandals surrounding alleged doping and corruption within the IAAF could damage its own reputation.
“This decision was taken in light of negative publicity associated with allegations of corruption and doping in sport made against the IAAF,” Nestlé spokeswoman Lydia Meziani told swissinfo.ch in an email.
Meziani said Nestlé took the decision as it feared “this could negatively impact our reputation and image”.
However, Coe called Nestlé's move "hypocritical".
"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," he was quoted as telling BBC Sport on Thursday.
The IAAF said it was in discussion with Nestlé regarding the final year of its five-year partnership with the IAAF Kids’ Athletics scheme.
"This has been a successful programme with 15 million kids aged 7 to 12 years in 76 countries taking part in fun team activities which promotes a healthy, active life style,” it said.
Coe, the British former Olympic 1,500-metre run champion, took over as IAAF President last year with the aim of cleaning up the organisation, but has faced problems on different fronts.
An independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) stated in a report that "corruption was embedded" at the organisation.
The report said that a clique run by former IAAF president Lamine Diack covered up organised doping, and blackmailed athletes while senior officials looked the other way.
Diack is under formal investigation in France on suspicion of corruption and money-laundering linked to concealing positive drug tests, in concert with Russian officials.
Separately, Coe has faced criticism following Russia's ban from the sport for what a WADA commission described as "state-sponsored" doping.
Last month, sportswear firm Adidas told the BBC it was ending its sponsorship deal with the IAAF.
swissinfo.ch with agencies