LONDON - Food and beverage giant Nestle told the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Wednesday that it terminated its sponsorship of world athletics' governing body over fears that the ongoing doping scandal could damage the company's image.
The announcement came while Adidas remains in talks with the IAAF about its handling of the corruption scandal amid reports the sportswear giant was considering ending its sponsorship.
Under Sebastian Coe's new leadership, the IAAF is fighting attempts by sponsors to cut their contracts early.
Coe said he was "angered and dismayed" by the Nestle announcement.
"We will not accept it," he said in a statement. "It's the kids who will suffer."
Nestle has funded the organization's athletics program for kids for four years but decided to end the partnership "with immediate effect."
"This decision was taken in light of negative publicity associated with allegations of corruption and doping in sport made against the IAAF," Nestle said in a statement. "We believe this could negatively impact our reputation and image and will therefore terminate our existing agreement with the IAAF, established in 2012."
Incensed by the Nestle announcement, the IAAF was determined to hold the company to the final year of its contract. Rather than accepting the sponsor's decision, the IAAF said it remained "in discussion with Nestle concerning the final year of its five-year partnership."
"This has been a successful program with 15 million kids aged seven to 12 years in 76 countries, taking part in fun team activities which promotes a healthy, active lifestyle," the IAAF said.
The program was due to reach another 15 countries, involving another 3 million children, training 360 lecturers and 8,640 physical education teachers, the IAAF added.
The Nestle decision was a blow to Coe, whose first six months as IAAF president have been blighted by the extent of the corruption under predecessor Lamine Diack being exposed.
A World Anti-Doping Agency investigation found deeply rooted corruption on the inside by a "powerful rogue group" led by Diack, which conspired to extort athletes and allow Russians who doped to continue competing.