Former head of world athletics Lamine Diack jailed for corruption

Former President of the International Association of Athletics Federations Lamine Diack, wearing a face mask, leaves after the verdict in his trial at the Paris courthouse, France, on September 16, 2020.
Former President of the International Association of Athletics Federations Lamine Diack, wearing a face mask, leaves after the verdict in his trial at the Paris courthouse, France, on September 16, 2020.
Image: REUTERS/ CHARLES PLATIAU

Lamine Diack, the former head of the world athletics governing body, was convicted in France on Wednesday of corruption in a Russian doping scandal and sentenced to at least two years in jail.

Diack, 87, was found guilty of taking bribes from athletes in return for orchestrating the cover-up of test results that enabled them to continue competing, including in the 2012 London Olympics.

Diack was also found guilty of accepting Russian money to help finance Macky Sall’s 2012 presidential campaign in Senegal, his home country, in exchange for slowing anti-doping procedures, the court ruled.

The court had heard how Diack solicited bribes totalling €3.45m from athletes suspected of drugs cheating and paid off other officials at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to aid with the cover up.

The presiding judge said the former long-jumper’s actions had “undermined the values of athletics and the fight against doping”.

The court handed Diack a four-year prison sentence, two years of which are suspended, and imposed the maximum fine of €500,000. Diack’s lawyers called the judgment against him unfair and inhumane, and said they would appeal.

Diack was once one of the most influential men in the sport, leading the IAAF, now known as World Athletics, from 1999 to 2015. In his testimony, he acknowledged slowing the handling of Russian doping cases between 2011 and 2013 to save a sponsorship deal with a Russian bank and avoid public scandal.

But he denied the corruption allegations. At the heart of the corruption scam alongside Diack was his son, Papa Massata Diack. The court sentenced Papa Massata, who fled from France to Senegal after the French investigation began, to five years in prison and imposed a €1m fine on him. It also ordered both men to pay World Athletics €5m in damages for breach of trust.

Four other defendants were charged in the case: Habib Cisse, Diack’s former lawyer at the IAAF; Gabriel Dollé, who oversaw doping tests at the IAAF; former head of Russian athletics Valentin Balakhnitchev, and former Russian athletics’ head coach Alexei Melnikov. All four were found guilty of corruption offences.

Reuters


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