(Reuters) - The future of a key aide to IAAF president Sebastian Coe was in doubt on Thursday after Nick Davies, the federation's deputy general secretary, was criticized in a report into athletics' corruption scandal.
Davies, who became Coe's chief of staff after the latter's election to the top job at the sport's world governing body, last month temporarily stood down amid an investigation into allegations against him of unethical behavior.
Davies made his decision following a leaked email of his in which he discusses a plan to delay the announcement of positive tests by Russian athletes in the run-up to the 2013 world championships in Moscow.
The International Association of Athletics Federations' ethics commission is investigating the conduct of Davies, who has denied any wrongdoing.
However, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission's latest report on Thursday noted that he "was well aware of Russian 'skeletons' in the cupboard".
The report said the IAAF Council, which included Coe, "could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics" but its author Dick Pound suggested the former British Olympic champion was still the man to lead the sport out of its crisis.
Yet for Davies, there was only criticism, with the report stating that he did not mention any knowledge of the delays in reporting doping violations when he was interviewed by the commission in June.
The subsequent leaked email from him to marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack, son of then IAAF president Lamine Diack, was reproduced in Thursday's report in which Davies tells him: "I will do everything in my power to protect the IAAF and the President."
Davies had suggested that his email was "brainstorming around media handling strategies to deal with the serious challenges we were facing around the image of the event (the world championships)."
But the commission report said: "This was not mere 'brainstorming'. Instead, it was a comprehensive and considered plan proposed by the IAAF Deputy Secretary General and Communications Director (Davies) to a member of the IAAF President's inner circle."
It added: "It is not clear why the image problem of Russian athletics should have been an issue for the IAAF. It should have had in mind the image of athletics generally, across all member countries, rather than propping up a national federation that had allowed itself to become a doping haven."
Davies had said in a statement after the original report of the leaked email: "I had no knowledge in 2013 that IAAF officials might be involved in alleged criminal conduct in relation to doping cases.
"Nor am I aware of any doping case that was not brought that should have been brought, or of any doping ban that was not published when it should have been published under the IAAF Rules."
(Writing by Mitch Phillips; Editing by Ken Ferris)