MONACO (AP) — Sebastian Coe gave up his role Thursday as a special adviser to Nike Inc. that left the new president of the IAAF open to accusations that he was vulnerable to conflicts of interest.
Coe told a news conference in Monaco that he felt that "noise" about his ties to Nike were distracting him from his work at the International Association of Athletics Federations.
"It is clear that perception and reality have become horribly mangled," he said.
Coe has been under increasing scrutiny for his long-standing ties to the U.S. sportswear giant.
Coe said he didn't believe that his "long and historic relationship" with Nike was a conflict of interest. But he added that media speculation about it has obscured his work putting out numerous fires at the IAAF, including systematic doping in Russia and alleged corruption involving his predecessor, Lamine Diack.
The "noise level is not good for the IAAF and it is not good for Nike," Coe said.
"I felt that I needed to be able to focus unflinchingly on the challenges ahead," he added, saying it was his "absolute intention to focus as long and as hard as I can on steadying the ship."
Coe first announced his decision to a meeting of the IAAF's ruling council before speaking at the news conference.
In other business, the council discussed the doping crisis in Russia and gave a green light to setting up a new integrity unit for the IAAF.