PARIS —- Lamine Diack, once one of the most powerful men in sport as president of the world athletics federation, has been jailed for two years in Paris for corruption in supressing positive dope testing of Russian athletes.
The 87-year-old Senegalese, who headed the IAAF from 1999-2015, was also jailed for a further two years suspended and fined €500,000 despite denying multiple corruption offences. He was charges acquitted on one charge of money laundering.
Judge Rose-Marie Hunault said: “The money [€3.2m] was paid in exchange for a programme entitled ‘full protection.’” The purpose had been so Russian athletes could escape punishment in the run-up to the Moscow world championships.
He was also a member of the Internatonal Olympic Committee from 1999 to 2013, then an honorary member from 2014 to 2015, and the chairman of Senegal’s national water company from 1995 to 2001.
Guilty verdicts were also delivered on five other defendants who included Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, who had worked as an IAAF marketing consultant.
Judge Hunault said €13m had been channeled to the younger Diack’s companies, including commissions and money creamed off contracts and the sale of TV rights and other transactions while his father ran the IAAF – which has since changed its name to World Athletics.
Diack Jnr was unable to be extradited from Senegal. He was sentenced in absence to five years in prison and a fine of €1m.
The court decisions were welcomed by both World Athletics – now led by Lord Sebastian Coe – and by the World Anti-Doping Agencies.
World Athletics statement:
This has been a long five years and we would like to thank the French Prosecutors and the Paris Criminal Court for their time, detailed work and deliberations in to this case.
Whilst we are disappointed this happened in our sport, we are grateful for the strong and clear decisions that have been taken against the individuals involved and charged with these crimes, and we would like to reassure everyone that the reforms our Congress approved in 2016 will ensure that similar actions by individuals can never happen again in our sport.
We are grateful for the damages awarded by the Paris Criminal Court totalling €16 million for embezzled funds and for reputational damage suffered as a direct consequence of these crimes and the resulting media coverage.
As the Court acknowledged, this damage has impacted World Athletics’ finances and had a negative impact on World Athletics’ image and reputation in a deep and lasting way. We will do everything we can to recover the monies awarded, and return them to the organisation for the development of athletics globally.
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.”