PARIS: The trial opens today in Paris of  Lamine Diack, president between 1999 and 2015 of the International Athletics Federation, on charges of corruption, conspiracy to money laundering and breach of trust. Diack, 87 on Sunday, faces a maximum 10 years in prison.

The Senegalese, once the most influential African sports leader in the Olympic movement, is accused of accepting €3.45m to overlook the case of doping-suspected Russian athletes.

Diack chaired the IAAF, now World Athletics, between 1999 and 2015. He was arrested in France in November 2015 along with legal adviser, the Paris lawyer Habib Cissé.

The details of the case go back to 2010 and an investigation was launched by Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke in March 2019.

Diack’s trial should have started on January 12 but a delay was necessitated by the late provision from the Senegalese judicial authorities of bank documents relating to several companies of Papa Massata Diack, the son of the former president of the IAAF, who has also been charged but in his absence.

Gabriel Dollé, the former head of anti-doping at the IAAF, now 78, has admitted receiving €190,000 euros in cash in exchange for his silence in the case of doping of Russian athletes.

Papa Massata Diack will be represented by one of his three lawyers, the only Parisian of the trio. Maître Antoine Beauquier has already announced that he would request a postponement of the trial, claiming that his two colleagues, both Senegalese, cannot travel to France because of travel restrictions.

Also among absent are the two Russians involved: one is the ex-president of the Russian Athletics Federation, Valentin Balakhnichev, who was also treasurer of the IAAF; and the other is former national trainer Alexei Melnikov.

They remained in Russia, where they are the subject of an international arrest warrant for having participated in the payment of bribes to protect their athletes.

The World Anti-Doping Agency, the IOC and World Athletics, but also two former French athletes, Christelle Daunay and Hind Dehiba, have brought civil actions.

A verdict is expected on Thursday, June 18. Lamine Diack has been under house arrest in France for more than four years.