Athletics was plunged into its worst crisis last night (Wednesday) after -police confirmed that Lord Coe's predecessor as the head of the sport was under investigation for allegedly taking pounds 700,000 to cover up doping.
The headquarters of the International Association of Athletics Federations was raided by officers probing former president Lamine Diack, who was succeeded by Coe in August after 16 years in the role.
Diack and other IAAF officials are suspected of taking money in 2011 to allow at least six Russians to continue competing - some of them at the London Olympics - when they should been banned.
Jean-Yves Lourgouilloux, assistant prosecutor at the office that handles financial prosecutions in France, claimed: "They decided not to act and now we understand why. It was in exchange for money." Diack was arrested on Sunday and held until Tuesday, when he was placed under formal investigation on corruption and aggravated money-laundering charges.
The Senegalese was released on euros 500,000 (pounds 353,000) bail and ordered to surrender his passport and not to leave France.
His legal adviser, Habib Cisse, was also placed under investigation by judges acting on evidence provided by the World Anti-Doping Agency, while Gabriel Dolle, the former director of the IAAF's anti-doping department, was taken into custody in Nice. The raid on the IAAF's Monaco base took place on Tuesday, with Coe present at the time and questioned voluntarily.
With Fifa president Sepp Blatter also under criminal investigation over a pounds 1.3?million payment to Michel Platini, yesterday's news left international sports governance facing an unprecedented crisis.
It is almost a year since allegations emerged that positive drug tests involving Russian athletes had been covered up by IAAF officials.
The Daily Telegraph exclusively revealed the potential scale of the scandal in December, when it published data from a list it had previously been claimed contained athletes whose suspicious blood values were not followed up.
The IAAF denied at the time that it failed to act on such values, having already mandated its ethics commission to look into allegations Russia was running an East German-style doping programme. A separate Wada probe followed.
The French investigation is thought to centre on the case of marathon runner Liliya Shobu-khova, who last year alleged that two members of the Russian Athletics Federation extorted $450,000 (pounds 293,000) from her in return for covering up a positive test.
As well as Diack, several officials have been allegedly involved in covering up Russian doping, including his son, IAAF marketing consultant Pape Massata Diack.
The others are Valentin Balakh-nichev, the IAAF treasurer and Russian Athletics Federation president, and Cisse, who worked for the IAAF as a legal adviser. All three agreed to stand down from their positions pending an investigation.
The IAAF said yesterday: "The IAAF confirms that, emanating from separate ongoing investigations by Wada's independent commission and the IAAF's own independent ethics commission into allegations surrounding its anti-doping rules and regulations, a French police investigation has now commenced.
"The IAAF is fully cooperating with all investigations, as it has from the beginning of the process. As part of the French investigation, police visited the IAAF HQ yesterday to carry out interviews and to access documentation."
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko played down the significance of the probe. "God knows what's going on there," he told Russian news agency Tass. "We've already said that our federation had problems. The old management isn't working there any more."