Features 21st November 2016

New allegations over Qatar’s bid for 2017 IAAF World Championships

It has been alleged that Qatar made two payments to a company founded by a former International Association of Athletics (IAAF) executive wanted by Interpol four days before a 2011 vote to award the 2017 IAAF World Championships to London. Le Monde claims to have evidence of two bank transfers – made on 13 October and 7 November – from Oryx Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) to Pamodzi Sports Consulting, a company owned by Papa Massata Diack. Papa Diack is the son of former IAAF President Lamine Diack, who was arrested on corruption charges by French police a year ago. Papa Diack was banned for life by the IAAF due to corruption charges in January this year.

Le Monde claims to have evidence that QSI sent US$3 million to Pamodzi on 13 October 2011, followed by a further $500,000 sent on 7 November, four days before the 2017 IAAF World Championships were awarded to London. Last month, the IAAF Ethics Board dismissed a claim from UK Athletics Chairman Ed Warner that ‘brown envelopes’ were being passed to IAAF Council members by the Qatari delegation on the night before the vote due to lack of corroborating evidence.

Three years later, Doha was awarded the right to host the 2019 edition of the IAAF Worlds, after allegedly sending letters to members of the IAAF Council pledging US$37 million in TV and sponsorship revenues shortly before the vote, which is not against IAAF rules. The IAAF also found that Qatar gave two vehicles to Athletics Kenya President Isaiah Kiplagat in connection to its bid. IOC President Thomas Bach recently told delegates at the Association of National Olympics Committees (ANOC) General Assembly in Doha that he could envision Qatar as a candidate city for the Olympic Games.

The Qatar Athletics Federation (QAF) said it is considering legal action over Le Monde’s allegations. “The QAF can confirm that they have no relationship with Oryx Qatar Sport Investments and no knowledge or involvement of the wire transfers to the named party or individual”, read a reported statement. “The QAF upholds the highest standards of ethics and we followed the IAAF’s rules at every stage of our 2017 and 2019 bids to host the IAAF World Championships in Athletics. We are very disappointed to be named in these allegations.”

Founded in 2005, QSI describes itself as a ‘100% Qatari private shareholding company’ that is designed to generate revenues to be ‘reinvested into Qatar’s sport, leisure and entertainment sectors to benefit the community as a whole’. It is understood to be an arm of the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). Papa Diack has denied December 2014 allegations that he had asked QSI for $5 million in 2011.

It has also been alleged that Papa Diack is behind the Black Tidings company, which received a S$2.8 million (£1.55 million) payment in connection to Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. The payment was investigated by French prosecutors and a Japanese panel, which found that it did not break any Japanese laws. The second report of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Commission, which was appointed to investigate allegations of systemic Russian doping in athletics, found that Black Tidings had been involved with the channelling of money connected to the concealment of positive doping tests.

Papa Diack’s father, former IAAF President Laine Diack, is due back in court in France today, where will face corruption charges. It is understood that the IAAF has held off attempting to sanction him until the French criminal proceedings are concluded.

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