Ex-IAAF Boss Lamine Diack Jailed For 2 Years For Corruption After Taking Russian Doping Bribes

2020-09-16 Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Lamine Diack, the former president of the IAAF, now renamed World Athletics, has been jailed for two years for corruption after being found guilty of accepting bribes from Russia to cover up doping.

The court also sentenced Diack, 87 and from Senegal, to a further two years of custodial sentence, suspended – and slapped him with a €500,000 fine

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) heralded the court verdict as a “victory for athletes and for clean sport” (see statement in full below). WADA President Witold Bańka said:

“This is a victory for athletes and for clean sport. It shows that no one is above the law. It is particularly encouraging when sports-related corruption is being taken seriously by criminal justice systems around the world, and the French authorities are to be congratulated for their diligence and commitment.”

The verdict of a Paris court after lengthy investigations and court hearings confirms corruption at the height of athletics and the Olympic Movement in specific connection to Russia and the state-backed doping program that caused Russia to be barred from Olympic sport in 2016 and again more recently for a period of four more years.

Diack led the global track and field federation, the biggest recipient among all sports of Olympic broadcast-rights funding, from 1999 to 2015. After investigations by police and international police and law-enforcement agencies, he faced five charges related to an alleged cover-up of drugs tests for Russian athletes in return for bribes.

Lamine Diacke was charged with directly or indirectly soliciting €3.45m from athletes to cover up positive drug tests in order for them to continue competing in events. He was also charged with soliciting or approving the payment of $1.5m from the Russian authorities to finance electoral campaigns in Senegal.

As WADA noted, the case began when a whistleblower brought forward valuable information.

Diack was also charged with being involved in a payment of €190,000 to Gabriel Dolle, the French former head of anti-doping at the IAAF, and with complicity in money laundering and breach of trust.

Related investigations and legal processes, involving Diack’s son, remain open.

Lamine Diack stood down as IAAF president in August 2015. He was succeeded by Lord Coe (Sebastian Coe, the 1980-1984 Olympic track champion for Britain)

In January 2016, as the Rio Olympic Games loomed large on the horizon, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found Diack “organised and enabled” the Russian doping scandal within the IAAF.

WADA welcomes decision of French court in Diack case

WADA statement in full:

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) welcomes the decision by the Correctional Tribunal in Paris, France, to convict six people, including the former President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF, today World Athletics), Lamine Diack, on charges of corruption linked to the Russian doping scandal.

Based in part on information provided by WADA, Mr. Diack was found to have accepted bribes in order to cover up doping cases of Russian athletes so they would be free to compete at major athletics events, including the Olympic Games and IAAF World Championships. The other defendants were found guilty of a range of related offences. As part of this ruling, WADA, which was an interested party to this case, has been awarded more than EUR 300,000 in costs and damages.

WADA President Witold Bańka said:

“This is a victory for athletes and for clean sport. It shows that no one is above the law. It is particularly encouraging when sports-related corruption is being taken seriously by criminal justice systems around the world, and the French authorities are to be congratulated for their diligence and commitment.”

WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said:

“This case, like so many, started with a whistleblower, who brought important information to WADA’s attention. In 2015, WADA shared this intelligence along with other elements of its then ongoing Pound investigation with French prosecutors and, on that basis, a criminal investigation was opened. This case shows the importance of WADA’s work with law enforcement agencies around the world as we seek to ensure that those who engage in corruption or try to cheat the system face the appropriate sanctions. It is particularly pleasing for us that all the factual elements we provided to the French investigators were confirmed by the court’s decision.”

End of statement

Lamine Diack told his corruption trial in Paris in June that he had agreed to delay investigations into Russian doping cases for the sake of the sport’s “financial health” at time when athletics bosses were in talks with Russian sponsors.

Lamine Diack Admitted Doping Bans Delayed For Russian Dopers So They Could Compete At London 2012 Olympics

Diack, formerly one of the most powerful leaders at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told the court that he had ordered the delay of inquiries into positive tests after 23 Russian athletes failed anti-doping checks. Said Diack:

“It was mainly for the financial health of the IAAF. The financial health of the IAAF had to be safeguarded and I was prepared to make that compromise.”

Diack admitted that bans were delayed in order to allow the Russian athletes concerned to compete at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the World Athletics Championships in Moscow in 2013.

The IAAF leader’s aim was to prevent the cases derailing talks with prospective Russian sponsors, including state-owned bank VTB and the RTR broadcaster.

In the money-for-doping-coverups case, prosecutors say Diack “directly or indirectly” demanded 3.45 million euros ($3.9 million) from Russian athletes in order to have their names cleared. The cover-ups, which were organised under an operation described as “full protection”, allowed some of the Russians to win medals at the London Olympics despite them having tested positive for doping.

In court in June, Lamine Diack refused to be drawn on allegations that he obtained $1.5 million of Russian funds to help back Macky Sall’s campaign for the 2012 Senegal presidential election – which he won – in exchange for the “full protection” cover-up.

Where the trail of Russian money used for doping cover-ups and allegedly used for specific political purpose may lead to remains to be fully revealed.

In the WADA fight against cheating in Russian sport, the trail of decision-making led all the way to the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin, the former Soviet KGB agent who was awarded FINA’s top honour by the international swimming federation in 2014 on the eve of revelations of state-backed doping and investigations that would lead to two blanket but conditional bans on Russia in the realm of Olympic sports.

Lamine Diack commenting on his trial back in January in Paris:

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