Former athletics chief Lamine Diack charged over doping cover-up

Martyn Ziegler 04:48 05/11/2015
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Accused: Diack.

International athletics has been plunged into a major corruption crisis after former IAAF president Lamine Diack was charged by French police with corruption over suspicions he took bribes to cover up doping cases.

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The veteran Senegalese official and his legal advisor, Habib Cisse, were charged with corruption, money laundering and conspiracy, French prosecutors said. Both were released on bail.

A former IAAF anti-doping doctor, Gabriel Dolle, was detained for questioning The prosecutor said the investigations included a probe into allegations that Diack, IAAF president from 1999 until this year, was paid more than €1 million (Dh3.9m) to cover up positive drugs tests.

A source close to the investigation told news agency AFP that the case was focusing on two or three doping tests by Russian athletes. Officers visited the headquarters of international athletics in Monaco on Tuesday and took documents, a statement from the IAAF confirmed.

It is understood IAAF president Lord Coe, who took over from Diack in August, was at the offices at the time and volunteered to speak to the investigators.

An IAAF statement said: “The IAAF confirms that, emanating from separate ongoing investigations by WADA’s independent commission and the IAAF’s own independent Ethics Commission into allegations surrounding its anti-doping rules and regulations, a French police investigation has now commenced. The IAAF is fully cooperating with all investigations as it has been from the beginning of the process.

“As part of the French investigation, police visited the IAAF HQ offices yesterday to carry out interviews and to access documentation.”

The accusations come at a critical time for the IAAF as the World Anti-Doping Agency will this month release a report on allegations of widespread use of banned substances in Russia and other countries.

The scandal broke in late 2014 when German broadcaster ARD alleged a number of positive dope tests involving Russian athletes were covered up by IAAF officials. About 50 Russian athletes are currently banned by the IAAF, the highest number of any country.

Several IAAF officials are implicated in covering up Russian doping including Diack’s son, IAAF marketing consultant Pape Massata Diack. The others were Valentin Balakhnichev, the IAAF treasurer and Russian Athletics Federation president, and Cisse, who worked for the IAAF as legal adviser. All three agreed to stand down from their positions pending an investigation.

WADA later released a short statement in which it said that the investigations had been prompted by its information. “WADA is aware of the ongoing criminal investigations relating to sport officials and allegations of corruption and money-laundering, as announced by the French authorities earlier today.

“These investigations are a result of information passed on by WADA’s Independent Commission (IC) to the relevant authorities,” the statement read. WADA will make no further comment at this time.” 

An IOC spokesman then added they had “full confidence” in Coe and the IAAF’s new leadership.

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