Lananna, Oregon 2021 world championships chair, resigns

(Reuters) - Vin Lananna resigned as chair of Oregon’s 2021 world athletics championships on Tuesday saying he wanted to devote more of his time to focus on the future of the sport in the United States.

The driving force in bringing major meetings to Eugene and Portland, Lananna was placed on temporary administrative leave from his position as president of USA Track & Field in February while the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the 2021 bid.

The Eugene Register-Guard newspaper reported that Lananna had denied his resignation was connected in any way to the DOJ investigation.

Lananna said in a letter to the Oregon21 Steering Committee that he had been thinking about how he could boost the sport with the United States set to host the world championships and the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

“In order to consolidate my efforts and seize this moment, I am stepping aside as President of TrackTown USA and as Chair of the Oregon21 Local Organizing Committee,” he said in his letter.

“With the day-to-day operational structure of TrackTown USA and the delivery of Oregon21 in capable hands, the timing for me to transition my focus to the future of track and field could not be better.”

Chief Executive Michael Reilly will lead TrackTown USA -- a non-profit organisation founded by Lananna to bring major meetings to Oregon -- and Kathy Herrmann has been hired to serve as interim executive director of Oregon21, he said.

The International Association of Athletics Federations said it will hold talks with Reilly and Herrmann this week to draw “clear lines of accountability” on preparations for the championships.

“The Oregon 21 Organising Committee has a good team in place under Kathy Herrmann and Michael Reilly,” the IAAF said in a statement.

“We have been working with them on simplifying and solidifying their governance and management structures to ensure clear lines of accountability for all aspects of the delivery of the IAAF World Championships in 2021.

“We will continue those talks this week and look forward to our next visit later this year.”

With Lananna spearheading efforts, Eugene was awarded the 2021 championships by the IAAF in 2015 without a bid.

French investigators have since said they were investigating the decision as part of a larger look at Olympic and world championship bids and in February, the board of USA Track & Field put Lananna on leave as its president

No wrongdoing has been alleged and Eugene organisers have said they had adhered to all ethical and legal standards in pursuing the bid.

Editing by Peter Rutherford and Ed Osmond