The world athletics body IAAF was set to rule Friday whether to ban Russian athletes from the upcoming Olympics, but the decision was overshadowed by a media report alleging that IAAF chief Sebastian Coe had reacted too late to the Russian doping scandal.
In addition, the BBC report presented text messages suggesting that the son of Coe's disgraced Senegalese predecessor Lamine Diack, Papa Massata Diack, had organized the votes that secured Coe the election as IAAF chief last August.
These charges would hamper the IAAF's efforts to deal with its current crisis, said Clemens Prokop, the head of Germany's athletics association DLV.
"Should the allegations be correct, it would affect Coe's integrity," he told dpa.
"Regardless of that, IAAF needs a stringent leadership at this time, and not one that is weakened," he added.
Against this background, IAAF's governing Council was gathering in Vienna to determine whether Russia has set up a functioning anti-doping structure in response to a report by world anti-doping agency WADA that detailed systematic cheating in Russian athletics.
On Wednesday, WADA issued further allegations that 736 planned doping tests of Russia competitors were thwarted between February and May.
The Council was set to announce at 5 pm (1500 GMT) whether the entire Russian team will be banned or admitted to the games in Rio de Janeiro in August, or whether clean athletes will be allowed to take part under certain conditions.
Ahead of the decision, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "in legal terms everything possible is done and will be done to protect the interests of our athletes and Russia’s Olympic team."
At the same time, he said Russia would continue cooperating with international organizations, including on doping issues, newswire Tass quoted him as saying.
BBC reported Thursday that Coe had been informed about the doping case of Russian marathon runner Lilya Shobukhova four months before German broadcaster ARD made it public in late 2014, in a documentary on systematic doping in Russia.
In a reaction, IAAF acknowledged that Coe had received information about doping allegations while he was still IAAF deputy chief, but the athletics body stressed that Coe had reacted appropriately by forwarding the material to its Ethics Commission.
Regarding Coe's election, IAAF said he had received unsolicited advice from Diack Jr.
The younger Diack is wanted by Interpol for corruption, and his father is charged with abuse of office and money laundering in France.
"He sent messages of support while at the same time supporting other candidates and accusing Seb Coe of leading a British media campaign against both him and his father," IAAF said.