Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
French financial prosecutors have confirmed that they are investigating a payment titled ‘Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Bid’ made to Black Tidings Limited, a company owned by Papa Massata Diack, son of former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack. ‘In December 2015, as part of the corruption case relating to concealment within the IAAF of doping cases involving Russian athletes, the PNF was informed of two financial movements during the months of July and October 2013, totalling S$2.8 million [€1.8 million at current exchange rates] under the title ‘Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Bid’ from an account at a Japanese bank for the benefit of ‘Black Tidings’ in Singapore’, read a statement from the Parquet National Financier (PNF), reported in Le Monde.
The PNF said it had opened an investigation on Christmas Eve 2015 ‘against unnamed persons relating to charges of active bribery, passive bribery, aggravated money laundering, concealment committed by an organised gang and participation in conspiracy by association in order to determine the nature of such transactions, and to verify if the corruption and money laundering allegations committed at the behest of the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games factually hold true’. Tokyo 2020 attempted to distance itself from the allegations. ‘The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee is not itself involved in this, as it concerns the bidding process and those who worked at the bid committee’, read a statement. ‘The Organising Committee’s understanding of the contents of [The Guardian’s] report is quite different’.
In March, French prosecutors widened the scope of their investigation to include awarding of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games; to include the award of the the 2021 World Athletics Championships to Eugene, Oregon; to include allegations of corruption in connection to the 2006 IAAF Athletics World Cup; allegations concerning the award of the 2017 World Athletics Championships to London and the 2019 edition to Doha. However, this is understood to be the first time that Back Tidings has been linked to alleged corruption involving bidding for sporting events.
If such corruption is proven, it could implicate both the IAAF and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has pinned its Olympic Agenda 2020 and the declaration of good governance that goes with it to the Tokyo Games. In January, the second WADA Independent Commission (IC) report linked Black Tidings to Ian Tan Hong Han, who was a consultant to a Switzerland-based subsidiary of Dentsu. A year before he was arrested, Lamine Diack extended the IAAF’s marketing contract with Dentsu until 2029. In July last year, the IOC awarded the exclusive broadcast rights in 22 Asian countries to Dentsu covering both summer and winter Olympic Games from 2018 to 2024. ‘Black Tidings in Hindi means Black Marketing or to Launder Black Money’, reads a footnote from the second WADA IC report. Both bodies will need to explain the circumstances under which Dentsu was awarded those deals.
The second WADA IC report found evidence that Black Tidings had been involved with channelling money connected to attempted concealment of positive doping tests. It includes evidence that distance runner and 2010 London Marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova was extorted to the tune of €450,000 to allow her to compete in the London 2012 Olympics, with a first payment of €150,000 going to ‘the lawyer’. A company called ‘Black Tidings’, associated with Papa Massata Diack, later returned €300,000 to Shobukhova and her husband. This ties in with evidence given to the IAAF Ethics Commission and indicates that Habib Cissé, Lamine Diack’s former lawyer, was paid for facilitating the delay of an announcement regarding a positive test.