Former Olympic Runner Sebastian Coe Drops Out of Race for BBC Trust Chair Post

Sebastian Coe, as chairman of the London 2012 Summer Olympics Organizing Committee, displayed medals with Princess Anne.
Sebastian Coe, as chairman of the London 2012 Summer Olympics Organizing Committee, displayed medals with Princess Anne.
 Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

LONDON – ‎Former Olympic runner Sebastian Coe was seen as the leading contender to become chairman of the BBC Trust, the governing body of the U.K. public broadcaster.

But he told the Daily Mail that he did not have the "capacity" for the job and has therefore pulled out of the race before a key stage in the selection process this week.

"I did allow my name to go forward to give myself time to properly analyze whether I had enough time to do the job to the best of my abilities," he said.‎ "On reflection, I haven't the capacity, and I now want to concentrate on my current commitments and the International Association of Athletics Federations election." Saying that he would like to become president of the IAAF, he added: "As everyone knows, athletics is in my DNA."

The U.K. government is this week interviewing a shortlist of five people who could replace Chris Patten, who stepped down from the BBC Trust chairman role earlier this year, citing health reasons.

It is not known who the remaining candidates are. Diane Coyle, acting chair of the BBC Trust, doesn't feature on the British government's list of people who will be interviewed for the post, it emerged last week.

Among the names mentioned by industry observers and press reports as possible candidates: Channel 4 chairman Lord BurnsMarjorie Scardino, the former CEO of Financial Times owner Pearson PLC; Patience Wheatcroft, a former editor of the European edition of The Wall Street Journal; entrepreneur Martyn Rose, chairman of the English National Opera; and Sarah Hogg, a former BBC governor.‎

Coe was widely seen as prime minister David Cameron's favorite for the BBC Trust chair role, which comes with an annual salary of £110,000 ($188,000).

He won four Olympic medals, including in the 1,500-meter race at the Summer Olympics in 1980 and 1984. Coe also headed the successful London bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and became chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the event.

The interviews with the candidates are being conducted by a panel, followed by a second round of interviews with U.K. culture secretary Sajid Javid who will then choose a preferred candidate. That person will be questioned by the British parliament's House of Commons culture, media and sport select committee before the government comes to a final decision.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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