Features 17th March 2017

Weathering the storm – interview with Papa Massata Diack

For a man wanted by Interpol, Papa Massata Diack is remarkably calm. Our talk is punctuated by laughter at some of the allegations that the sporting world has made against him, allegations that he argues have no merit whatsoever. It is his view that his family have been made scapegoats for the failure of sport’s systems to deal with systemic Russian doping, and that the allegations against him and his family are part of a larger system of ‘power politics’ involving a battle for the control of international sport. However, he is also determined to clear his name and that of his father, former President of the International Association or Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack.

“I know so much about this whole sports movement, that if they ever come to investigate me, they will have the shock of their lives”, he says. “I will be the first one to take them to court. All this lies they have told and this credibility issue that they have put on me, I will not let it go just like that. Right now, my priority is ensuring Lamine is free and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) appeal. But I will not let it go. Never. They have told so many lies about me.”

Diack alleges that there are eight “lies” in the four reports of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) into systemic Russian doping. He admits that the IAAF made a conscious decision to delay the announcement of Russian doping positives until after the Moscow 2013 IAAF World Championships, however argues that anything beyond that is based on speculation and the testimonies of people who themselves are accused of corruption. In general, he argues:

• He was never involved with a scheme to extort money from athletes in return for covering up anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs);
• He never paid Nick Davies or any IAAF officials money;
• He was not involved with the ‘Black Tidings’ company alleged to have been involved in various corruption issues.

His arguments are supported by documentation seen by The Sports Integrity Initiative, some of which we have decided to publish.

Allegations against Papa Massata Diack 

Papa Massata Diack (PMD) is only fleetingly mentioned in the first WADA Independent Commission (IC) Report, which details his ‘resignation’ following ARD’s December 2014 documentary, which alleged that IAAF and Russian athletics officials colluded in order to cover up positive doping tests in exchange for cash. The second IC Report mentions him in much more detail and led to an IAAF investigation. This resulted in a life ban issued by the IAAF Ethics Commission for allegedly being involved in a scheme to extort money from Russian distance runner Liliya Shobukhova in return for covering up an alleged ADRV.

To some degree, the IAAF decision relied on the evidence produced in the second WADA IC Report, produced by WADA’s founding President Dick Pound. PMD has appealed against the IAAF’s decision to issue him with a life ban to the CAS. Although a hearing in that case (CAS 2016/A/4420) was held in November 2016, the CAS has not published its findings.

In brief, the allegations against PMD are as follows:

• That sometime between 16-18 July 2013, he gave IAAF Communications Director Nick Davies €30,000 in two envelopes;
• That on 29 July 2013, PMD sent an email to Lamine Diack explaining that at the request of Valentin Balakhnichev, former President of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), he had paid IAAF officials (including Davies) that had been ‘antagonistic’ towards Balakhnichev about the management of Russian doping cases;
• That a company run by him, Black Tidings, paid Liliya Shobukhova back €300,000 of the €450,000 she paid to cover up an ADRV after she was banned on 2 May 2014 by RusAF. The company is also alleged to have been involved in other schemes to cover up positive doping tests for five other Russian athletes;
• That Black Tidings received US$2.8 million in connection to Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games;
• That PMD advised the city of Stuttgart to offer cash payments, luxury watches, gifts and entertainment to IAAF officials in order to secure the 2006 IAAF Athletics World Cup;
• That PMD arranged for ‘parcels’ to be delivered to key members of the IOC during the 2009 bidding and voting process for the 2016 Olympics;
• That he was behind a deal for RusAF to provide financial support for a Senegalese election campaign;
• That he requested US$5 million during Doha’s failed bid to host the 2017 World Championships;
• That he brought in VTB Bank as a sponsor for the 2013 IAAF Moscow World Championships to cover up a US$6 million ‘shortfall’ in TV rights revenue, allegedly in exchange for covering up Russian ADRVs;
• He was offered US$2 million ahead of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote to appoint the host of the 2016 Olympic Games.

Liliya Shobukhova

Perhaps the most serious allegation against PMD is the one that resulted in him being issued with a life ban by the IAAF. This is, as set out in the IAAF Ethics Board decision, is that he ‘participated in an agreement with Valentin Balakhnichev, Alexei Melnikov and other persons that disciplinary action would not be taken against Lilya Shobukhova upon the payment by her of money’. It also found that in an attempt to buy Shobukhova’s silence about what had happened, PMD arranged the repayment of €300,000 of €450,000 via Singapore in March 2014, ahead of the 2 May announcement of her sanction.

“I have never met any athletes, I have never met any agents of athletes, I have never met any Russian Olympic officials or coaches of athletes”, argues PMD. “So how can people say that we are covering up doping cases in exchange for money? I think that this is totally inadmissible.”

The IAAF Ethics Commission decision relies on the fact that PMD travelled to Moscow to meet Shobukhova’s agent, Andrey Baranov, at the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel lobby on 4 December 2012. At a CAS hearing into his appeal against the IAAF Ethics Board devision to issue him with a life ban, PMD produced documentation which suggests he did not travel to Moscow until 6 December for a meeting with Valentin Balakhnichev and Habib Cissé, legal advisor to the IAAF President at the time, Lamine Diack. That documentation is reproduced here.

However, Baranov’s evidence to the IAAF Ethics Board decision does not actually claim that a meeting took place between himself and PMD. ‘On 26 November 2012, I received a three-minute telephone call from Mr Melnikov requesting that I attend a meeting in Moscow on 4 December 2012 with Mr Melnikov and…Valentin Balakhnichev’, it reads. ‘At Mr Melnikov’s instruction, I met him in the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel lobby on 4 December 2012. Mr Melnikov and I sat in one section of the lobby, while three other men sat together at a table across the lobby having their own meeting…President Balakhnichev came over to our table and said it was no longer necessary for me to meet anyone. President Balakhnichev appeared as though he had concluded his meeting with the other two men, and appeared to be on his way out of the hotel lobby.’

PMD alleges that Baranov has got him confused with Cissé. “I think that the evidence given by Baranov that the money was given to a black man who came to Moscow often, he wanted to pass the buck to somebody”, argues PMD. “I was the obvious target”. However, Baranov’s evidence claims that a ‘chubby man appearing to be of African descent who was not very tall’ was at the meeting as well – rather than instead of – Cissé. If that man was not PMD, as he claims, then who was he?

“At the CAS hearings, I showed them that they have no evidence against me”, says PMD. “I never met him. I never met the athlete’s representative or the athlete. At the CAS hearing, the coach – Alexei Melnikov – said that he had never met me. They say that I was giving him money. Where did I get this money from? From whom? They checked my travel records and I have done 18 trips in Russia from 2011 until 2013. They have not seen any record of me meeting a coach or an athlete. However, reports have said that money was given to a lawyer. It is so obvious who this person is.”

“They have seen my travel records which confirm that I was not in Moscow at the time that money was distributed”, continues PMD. “I have shown them my passport, air tickets, hotel bills from leaving Monaco on 5 December after 1pm. I could not be in Moscow on the fourth. The Ethics Board said that it’s not inconceivable that I came on the fourth, left Moscow and then came back on the fifth!”

Black Tidings

Many of the allegations levelled against PMD stem from his alleged involvement with Black Tidings, a company that is alleged to have organised payments in return for covering up ADRVs, as well as corrupt payments in relation to bids to host IAAF events. PMD denies any involvement in Black Tidings. “I am not the owner, I am not a shareholder, I am not a consultant to or an employee of Black Tidings”, he argues. “I have nothing to do with Black Tidings except that the owner is my personal friend. I know him from 2008 and he named his son after me because he was born on the same day as me. That’s it.”

The friend that PMD is referring to is Ianton Tan. “I said to them that this person was working for me in China, and has been running expenses for me when I travel overseas”, said PMD. “I do pay him from time to time. He received a phone call from Jean-Pierre Bonnot saying that he was a friend of mine and that I should help him do a transfer to Russia. He said he had to pay money to an athlete as he was keeping money in an investment fund for that athlete, and I had told him to contact you. This is how I got involved in this whole thing.”

The IAAF Ethics Board decision lists the mysterious Bonnot as ‘untraceable’, yet it did not accept Tan’s version of events. This was that Bonnot was ‘acquainted’ with Valentin Balaknichev and had claimed to be involved in managing trust funds for top track and field athletes in Russia. Tan said that he had received an ‘anonymous’ phone call from a person he thought to be PMD, verifying that Bonnot was his friend. As he thought this to be the case, he then arranged for the transfer of €300,000 from Black Tidings back to Shobukhova and her husband, which it was later alleged was to keep them quiet about what had happened.

‘His statement that he mistook the caller for PMD is, given that very relationship, unconvincing’, reads the Ethics Board decision. ‘In the Panel’s view, ITT’s [Tan’s] story was simply designed to insulate PMD from the transaction’.

PMD also denies the link between Tan, Black Tidings and himself alleged in the WADA IC Report and the IAAF Ethics Board decision. The IAAF Ethics Board decision points out that PMD’s consulting firm has its domain name registered at the same Singapore address as Black Tidings.

“Mr. Ianton Tan is a computer IT expert who used to work for Oracle”, counters PMD. “I had a problem registering my domain, pmdconsulting.org. I was in China at that time doing preparations for the [2015 Beijing] World Championships in December 2014. I said that I would like a registered name with my company name to use instead of gmail, which is not private. He helped me to set up that domain and put his address in Singapore when registering the domain.”

“So in the course of the investigation, they said that my company was registered in Singapore”, continues PMD. “They showed the registration of a company that had such a name in Singapore. I showed Mr. Hooper the registration of my company in Senegal, PMD Consulting. Then, I showed them that I have nothing to do with that company, Black Tidings, which was created and founded by Mr. Ianton Tan. Now, in the WADA Report, they say that Black Tidings in Hindi means laundering money.” In reply to this suggestion, PMD offers a deep, belly laugh.

Nick Davies

IMG_3591 copyUnder questioning by WADA, the IAAF and French police, Davies initially denied ever receiving €30,000 from PMD. After sending copies of his bank accounts to the IAAF Ethics Board, he admitted misleading everyone and said that he received the money in two envelopes between the 16th and the 18th of July 2013.

“I never gave Nick Davies €30,000”, argues PMD. “I have challenged this in CAS hearings. I told them that I wrote that email subsequent to our meeting.”

This appears to be accurate, as the email sent by PMD to his father outlining payments to IAAF staff was sent on 29 July 2013, according to the IAAF Ethics Board decision. “I never gave any money to any IAAF officials”, says PMD. “I was just suggesting it as an option, because they seemed to be asking for their share of the VTB [Bank] contract money”.

IMG_3592 copyThe 29 July 2013 email read as follows: ‘VVB [Valentin Balakhnichev] asked me to intervene internally with IAAF personnel who had been antagonistic towards him in the process of the management of the Russian cases [ce dossier] since September 2012 and, to this end, work of lobbying and of explanation has been carried out with C. Thiare (50 K), N Davies (UK press lobbying, 30 K and to calm down Jane Boulter); G Dollé (50 K) and PY Garnier (assistance Champagnolle 10K; managed by Cheikh who has agreed to speak to them so as to bring me up to date on Monday 29 July)’.

IMG_3593 copyDavies sent copies of his bank statements to the IAAF on 3 June 2016, as outlined in the Ethics Commission decision. ‘The bank statements showed a payment of €5,000 into the joint bank account of Mr Davies and Ms Boulter-Davies at the relevant times and payments totalling nearly €25,000 into Mr Davies’ sole account at the relevant times’, reads the decision. If, as PMD claims, he did not give Davies €30,000 in cash as claimed, then what did these payments relate to?

Inconsistencies

PMD also alleges a number of inaccuracies in the timeline of events outlined in the second WADA IP Report. The first involves when he became officially employed by the IAAF. “In the appendix to the WADA report, it says that I became a consultant to the IAAF in 2000”, he states. “That’s when my father became President and I was, at that time, in Nigeria. I was appointed by the government of Nigeria to be the marketing consultant for the FIFA World Youth Championships that took place in 1999. I remained in Nigeria for the 2000 Ghana and Nigeria African Cup of Nations. I was there until 2001 and was subsequently appointed for the 2003 All Africa Games. However it just happened that in 2001, Senegal qualified for the World Cup, and the federation appointed my company to be the marketing agency for the Senegal football team. I was involved with football until 2006.”

“In 2001, I became the marketing consultant to the Senegal Football Association until December 2006”, he continues. “In July 2006 I was at the African Championship in Mauritius. The President said to me that they were having a marketing exhibition in Beijing and that I should participate, as the IAAF only has Japanese sponsors – TDK, Seiko, Epsom, Mizuno, Toyota, Canon.”

“They wanted me to share the experience that I had with marketing athletics, because I knew athletics very well”, claims PMD. “Lord Coe was a member of that commission Chaired by Helmut Digel; Valentin Balakhnichev was a member of that commission; a Greek billionaire called Minos Kyriakou was also involved in that commission.”

“I made a ten-minute presentation. I said that if you want to make a big impact, you have to go to emerging countries. I pointed out that the world was moving from g8 to g20 and unless you understand that, your sport is dead.”

“The same people who were at that presentation went to Lamine and said: You have a son that is knowledgable about marketing? You should employ him! Laine pointed out that if he did that he would be accused of nepotism. They said that they already knew me. It took one year to convince me. I signed an agreement on 7th of September 2007. Not before.”

“WADA’s report claims that all marketing responsibility was under the control of Papa Massata Diack”, he continues. “I was a consultant based in Dakar. I am not on the staff of the IAAF. I am a not a resident of the principality of Monaco. I don’t have an account or a company based in Monaco. I do not have a bank account in France or a company based in France, yet they say that I was controlling the marketing of the IAAF from Dakar? How?”

IAAF decision to delay announcement of Russian positives

Although Diack doesn’t accept that the IAAF colluded with Russian officials to cover up ADRVs in return for money, he does admit that the IAAF decided to delay the announcement of Russian ADRVs until after the 2013 Moscow World Championships. He alleges that this was because the IAAF was aware of the magnitude of the situation and did not want to derail London 2012, Moscow 2013 and the appointment of Sebastian Coe to replace his father as President of the IAAF.

He claims that in 2011, he was at lunch in Dubrovka with the Russian Minister for Sport, Viatly Mutko, when he first heard about the 23 Russian doping positives that had been identified through the athlete biological passport (ABP) programme. “In 2011, when it was mentioned that Russia had issues with doping cases, I was at a lunch with the Russian Sports Minister, in Dubrovka, when President Diack was decorated with the Order Of Friendship by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev”, he says. “That was the first time that I heard about that problem. I came to renegotiate the agreement with VTB Bank, which had been a sponsor since 2007. It was the first time I heard this issue of doping. The President said to me that we have to make sure that this doesn’t happen now because London is on, and we have a big share of the revenues – $45 million – from the IOC. Our man Seb Coe is Chairman of the organising committee.”

“All I knew is that this matter would not be published until after the Moscow World Championships, because that was the agreement made back in 2011”, he admits. “They didn’t want to affect the negotiations with VTB or the negotiations with the IOC for the TV revenues from the Olympic Games sharing pool. That person [Cissé] was responsible for managing that process. He was the legal advisor to the President. He managed, subtley, not to be investigated by the Ethics Board. You can’t see his name in the Ethics Board report. They did not charge him, they did not prosecute him, they did not investigate him.”

PMD alleges that his father told him that the 23 cases would be examined and if there were allegations of substance, they would be released immediately, but anything else could wait until after London 2012. “Subsequently, Mr. Balakhnichev requested that it should be done after the World Championships in Moscow”, he alleges. “Of those 23 athletes, only two have medals in the Olympic Games – Valeriy Borchin and Olga Kaniskina. The President, Lamine Diack, said that he would delay the publication of these sanctions. We cannot forgive you, but we will manage it and publish the sanctions every two or three months. That’s all he agreed to.”

Senegalese election campaign

PMD also challenges the assertion that his father admitted soliciting €1.5 million from Balakhnichev to finance a Senegalese election campaign in return for covering up ADRVs. “They have checked all of my banking records and even say that they have US investigators cooperating with them”, points out PMD. “Where is the €1.5 million? Where is that money? If my father said that, then I challenge that statement. He is 82 years old and had been detained for 36 hours. Because he knows that at no point in time have I been party to a discussion with Mr. Balakhnichev.”

However, although he denied any implication that he received money from Balakhnichev in return for covering up ADRVs, PMD does not deny that he or Balakhnichev may have provided money to his father. “If we helped Lamine Diack, it is using money from commissions from contracts we negotiated for the IAAF. There is nothing criminal in that. However, with regard to a $1.5 million payment to politicians in Senegal, I was never party to that.”

Rio 2016 payment

Early this month, French newspaper Le Monde alleged that a Brazilian businessman gave PMD US$2 million three days before Rio won the right to host the 2016 Olympics at a vote held in Copenhagen in 2009. The newspaper alleges that French investigators suspect that the money was used to influence the vote. The newspaper also alleged that some of the money was transferred to a company owned by IOC member Frankie Fredericks, who stood down from his role as Chair of the Evaluation Committee for the 2024 Olympics. PMD dismissed the allegations as “totally untrue”.

Conspiracy

PMD alleges that the allegations levelled against his father, whom he alleges has been set up, bear certain similarities to the campaign waged against the previous leadership of the International Cycling Union (UCI), which was also replaced due to issues with doping. He argues that his family has been targeted to be the fall guys for sport’s failure to deal with systemic Russian doping, just as the UCI leadership were blamed for sport’s failure to deal with endemic doping in cycling.

“It is all a set up”, he argues. “It has been done nicely and in a timely manner in order to tarnish the leadership of the IAAF. I think that the target was to tarnish Lamine Diack and to destroy his leadership.”

He also alleges that WADA and the IAAF colluded in the alleged campaign to target the IAAF leadership. “WADA and the IAAF Ethics Board have been in contact [with each other]”, he argues, mentioning the letter sent by Craig Reedie and Olivier Niggli to Michael Beloff on 7 November 2014, which is published below. This letter shows that WADA and the IAAF Ethics Commission had been in contact about the situation in Russia prior to ARD’s December 2014 documentary.

PMD also alleges that WADA asked his father to resign. “François Carrard came to my father and asked him to resign in December 2014 because of the evidence against him”, he alleges. “He is the lawyer of WADA. Laine refused to resign and challenged him. He is now paying for that.”

WADA’s 7 November 2014 letter also contains allegations that the IAAF had been blackmailing RusAF since 2011. ‘We have however heard from other sources, that we cannot reveal at this stage for confidentiality reasons, further evidence which corroborates some of what we were told’, it reads.

“On 9 November 2015, in the first WADA [Independent Commission] report, we find that these allegations have been in the pipeline since September 19, coming from two Russian officials”, argues PMD. “They even met Mr. Balakhnichev on 26 October. So, WADA have had plenty of time to challenge the issues with the IAAF leadership. Mr. Reedie knows Mr. Diack very well, so does Mr. Pound. So at any point in time they could have discussed the allegations of corruption regarding collusion between Russia and the IAAF. Instead, they took it straight to the French police. WADA has misled the French investigation, that’s why the investigation is biased from the start.”

The first WADA IC Report suggests that WADA knew the Moscow laboratory was corrupt in January 2014, yet it appears that no action was taken. ‘On 11 January 2014, leading up to the Sochi Olympic Winter Games, WADA Science Director, Olivier Rabin and Moscow laboratory Dir. Rodchenkov met informally following a meeting in Sochi, during which they discussed the Johannesburg hearing’, it reads. ‘During this unsolicited meeting Dir. Rodchenkov affirmed Dr. Rabin’s assessment of the Moscow laboratory having external interferences with the analytical operations. Dir. Rodchenkov stated he was operating in a system where he was forced to do things in his position. Dir. Rodchenkov would not elaborate what he was forced to do.’

The obvious response to this is why would anyone bother to set up such an elaborate conspiracy just to harm the reputation of the Diacks? Like former UCI President Hein Verbruggen, who has made similar allegations in a complaint to the IOC Ethics Commission, he alleges that certain people used a developing situation in order to settle some personal scores.

“I think that this whole WADA investigation has a lot of elements of power politics”, argues PMD. “WADA was frustrated by the fact that it was underfunded by the IOC and the governments. Now that this investigation into Russia is on, it is the time to settle a lot of scores. WADA could have flown to Monaco to confront Lamine and say listen, there have been some findings that there have been some wrongdoings by athletics officials and Russian officials, your staff and your family, and he would have dealt with the matter or could have given his side of the explanation before they took it to the French police. But they immediately choose the headquarters to be in Lyon – that is not by coincidence – the same headquarters of Interpol. They signed a protocol with Interpol.”

PMD says that his father was caught like an “ostrich” in a trap. “They colluded with the French National Olympic Committee to invite Lamine Diack to a seminar in France on 7 November, and they caught him at the airport on 1 November when he arrived in Paris”, he continues. “You are telling me that this is a normal investigation? I refuse to go to France because although the investigation did not happen in France, there is a French criminal investigation. They allege that we tried to do something in Russia, Turkey, Singapore, Monaco, Senegal. None of those five fall under French jurisdiction, so why should we go to France?”

PMD points to the appointment of ex-Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent Jack Robertson as WADA’s Chief Investigator, and the police background of WADA’s Director of Intelligence and Investigations Günter Younger as evidence that the agency is straying into the area of criminal prosecutions. He alleges that WADA has no mandate to conduct criminal investigations.

“WADA is trying to use the report made by Craig Reedie and Olivier Niggli on the 7th of November to make a link to some kind of evidence”, he argues. “Because they have been making allegations now for 16 months. You cannot investigate for 16 months by making statements based on hearsay and testimony from whistleblowers that expect to get a reduced ban. The persons that are accusing me and Mr. Cissé are the people named by WADA in the McLaren Report. Those people have no credibility at all.”

PMD argues that this is why French prosecutors have yet to charge anyone, 16 months after his father was arrested. “They are having problems in finding evidence”, he says. “Where is the evidence? When you go to court, you cannot use hearsay. You need to have proof, and a high standard of proof. This is the credibility issue that WADA and the French investigators are suffering.”

WADA’s culpability

The Sports Integrity Initiative has previously pointed out how WADA has ignored its own culpability in failing to address the situation in Russia when it had the chance to do so. As shown above, Director of the Moscow Laboratory Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov directly told WADA’s Olivier Rabin that that Moscow laboratory was being interfered with in January 2014, ahead of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Following the Games, WADA was again told that there had been interference in the laboratory through its own Independent Observer report on the Games.

WADA also wrote to Rodchenkov in December 2014 telling him that a ‘surprise’ inspection of the Moscow Laboratory would be taking place (p42 of Part One of the WADA IP Report), resulting in the destruction of 8,000 of 10,000 samples held there. It also failed to send a request for long-term storage of 67 suspect samples sent from the Moscow laboratory to the Lausanne laboratory in October 2012, resulting in their destruction. Perhaps most shockingly of all, it failed to investigate why Russia, the host country, didn’t report a single AAF from Sochi 2014.

“Mr. Reedie knew about this in 2010”, alleges PMD. The Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) was launched in 2009, when the IAAF also became one of the first international federations to adopt it. PMD says that this is how the IAAF first became aware that there may be an issue with doping in Russia. WADA President Sir Craig Reedie is a member of WADA’s Executive Committee and Foundation Board, and has also served as Chair of the its Finance and Administration Committee since WADA’s formation in 1999.

“If you go to page 47 of the WADA report [WADA IP Report, Part Two], it says that there is an evident lack of political appetite within the IAAF to confront Russia with the full extent of its known doping activities”, argues PMD. “I could say the same about WADA. On page 46, under circle of knowledge, it says that far more IAAF staff knew about the problem than has been acknowledged. It is not credible that IAAF staff were not aware. Why was nothing done? The same can be said about WADA. Craig Reedie is a friend of Vitaly Mutko and doesn’t want to offend him. Vitaly Mutko is on the board of WADA. Natalia Zhelanova is on the Finance Committee. Many people say that Craig Reedie doesn’t want to undress Russia. Now they are trying to pass the buck onto the IAAF.”

“They don’t have any proof from that investigation to go to court”, argues PMD. “They cannot access Russia to investigate, because Putin will never allow them to do that. That’s why they are holding Coe to ransom and saying he has to keep the suspension of Russia intact. They have said that they have so much evidence of corruption, but if they are not able to prove it, they are dead and their credibility is gone. The backlash will be that all these people will now come and attack them, in court in Canada or Geneva, and that will be the end of them.”

Coe met Diacks after ARD documentary

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so the saying goes. One of the more remarkable claims from PMD is that the photo that heads this article was taken on 21 September 2015, almost a year after ARD aired its documentary alleging that IAAF Treasurer Balakhnichev was involving in covering up ADRVs in return for money, and shortly before Lamine Diack was arrested on 4 November 2015.

“It was taken on 21st of September 2015 at a lunch in Monaco at IAAF headquarters, when the handover took place to President Coe”, explained PMD. “At that time, I came to Monaco to make my final marketing consultant’s report. All the figures and contracts I have signed have been disclosed to the IAAF Marketing Commission. I met Coe there, which was when he asked me to help him for the IAAF Presidency. I did another report on the 20th of September 2015 with Mr Essar Gabriel and Nigel Garfitt, who was a consultant to Coe and helped him with the transition. Nick Davies came to join us for the visit, and we took that picture.”

At this point the full extent of the corruption allegations made against the IAAF were not known. Coe maintains that he did not know about allegations that IAAF officials were involving in covering up ADRVs in exchange for money, despite being sent an email about it – which he says he forwarded to the IAAF Ethics Commission without reading.

IMG_3667However, by his own admission, Coe knew that PMD was allegedly involved. In a letter to the Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) Committee of the UK Parliament, he said he was ‘not aware prior to December 2014 of the allegations that Papa Massata Diack/others associated with the IAAF were involved in covering up Russian doping’. In other words, on 21 September 2015 he knew that PMD was allegedly involved.

It therefore appears odd that cautious Coe was prepared to be pictured with the Diacks, despite the allegations against them. Especially as he was so careful not to open or read the August 2014 email from David Bedford containing a written complaint from Russian distance runner Liliya Shobukhova’s agent, Andrey Baranov, that athletics officials were attempting to export money from her in return for covering up a positive doping test.

Rock and a hard place

PMD argues that he is caught between a rock and a hard place due to is father’s incarceration, which has prevented him from taking legal action. He is suspicious about the fact that aspects of the investigation into the IAAF, himself and his father have been leaked to the media, citing this as further evidence of a conspiracy to besmirch the Diack name.

“For the last fifteen months, I have been waiting for a French judge to come to Senegal to investigate me”, he says. “Yet allegations are still being made through the newspapers. My main focus at the moment is defending myself against the decisions made by the Ethics Commission on 7 January 2016. It took the IAAF almost six months to accept my challenge. During this time, there have been a number of media leaks by French investigators.”

PMD alleges that WADA’s IC Report is “charged with lies and misinformation to give the impression that there was a corrupt governance structure. That is my real concern about this. Because nobody questioned Lamine on transparency issues for four mandates. He was preparing for the legacy of his work and that is why I was very shocked when I saw that everything was focussing on doping. It looks as if the IAAF was subject to something similar to a conspiracy.”

“They have made my credibility an issue”, he continues. “At this stage, my life and business is not important. What is important is that they tried to destroy the legacy of Lamine Diack. For 29 years in the IAAF – of which he was President for 16 years where he was unchallenged and unopposed for four mandates – nobody ever questioned his leadership.”

“I cannot accept the allegation that he set up an illegal or corrupt governance system”, continues PMD. “When he took over in 2001 from Primo Nebiolo, the first thing Lamine Diack did was to give responsibilities to the Vice Presidents. Arne Ljungqvist was the best medical expert in anti doping in the world. He was appointed as Vice President and Chairman of the Medical and Anti-Doping Commission. The second was Helmut Digel from Germany, who was appointed as Chairman of the Marketing and Promotion Commission for all TV and marketing negotiations. Even the contract with Dentsu, in which they say I played an important role, was signed by Helmut Digel on 19 September 2001 in Tokyo. They say that Lamine signed that deal (laughs).”

“Lamine also appointed Amadeo Francis to the IAAF Development Commission. All of them had a role to play and all of it was transparent. He set up the IAAF Executive Committee, where the President, Vice Presidents, the General Secretary, Treasurer and the Director General have four informal meetings a year. They spoke about all the sensitive issues affecting the IAAF. The channels of communication were open. It was not as if the walls were very high and nobody knew what was going on.”

Conclusion

Another interesting aspect of Papa Massata Diack’s defence is that he argues that WADA did not contact him to get his response to the allegations made in the second IC Report. He says that the IAAF did send notification of his alleged breaches of its Code of Ethics, investigated him and allowed him to respond “with proof and evidence that I am not guilty of any wrongdoing”. However, he also alleges that “no investigator, nobody from the IAAF Ethics Commission panel has contacted me to get my testimony” since it opened its investigation on 27 June 2016.

If this is true, this assertion lends credence to his argument that he and his father have been set up to be the fall guys for sport’s failure to deal with the situation in Russia. That WADA has not examined its own failings in dealing with the Russian situation further supports this hypothesis.

“The public needs to know that the stakeholders are working against doping”, said WADA’s new Vice President, Linda Hofstad Helleland at the recent WADA Symposium. “The public see fighting. Not against doping, but against each other. While we are doing that, the athletes are begging us to develop systems to catch more cheaters. I wish that we could spend as much time on fighting doping as we do on producing reports.”

The reason for this fighting is that an unintended consequence of the Reports that have been produced into systemic Russian doping is to apportion blame. By seeking to appoint an Independent Testing Authority and remove sport’s influence in anti-doping, the IOC is indirectly attacking the governance structures of WADA. The IOC has also questioned the findings of Richard McLaren in his two IP Reports, findings which McLaren has defended. The National Anti-Doping Agencies (NADOs) – which fall under WADA’s jurisdiction – have also been critical of the IOC for not banning Russia from the 2016 Olympics.

By apportioning blame to the IAAF and the Diacks, the IOC and WADA neatly sidestep responsibility for their failings in dealing with the Russian situation – if we follow PMD’s arguments to their logical conclusion. The argument is that IAAF are the scapegoat for the failure of sport’s anti-doping police to deal with the Russian issue – just as the UCI were entirely to blame for endemic doping in cycling.

In PMD’s words: “Sport has become a big business with big political power. There are also geo-political interests. Now the public and government want to have a say in what sports officials do. When there was no money involved, nobody was interested. Now the government wants to be like the IMF [International Monetary Fund] or the World Bank or the World Labour Organisation. Sport is the only sector that doesn’t have a governing body that controls it and governments are fed up with that. With the FIFA investigation and the IAAF investigation control is expected. But will the IFs accept it?”

“What is going on now between WADA and the IOC is power politics. WADA wants more money from the IOC. I think that they are using their investigatory platform to embarrass [IOC President] Thomas Bach who they can corner in order to get more attention and more funding. They want more power and more funds.”

“I have spent 25 years in the sports marketing world. Why would I get myself involved in this when I get my commission from marketing and television deals? I brough $260 million to the IAAF between 2011 and 2015. In my period of consultancy, I brought to the IAAF $670 million through contracts. The IAAF is secure until 2029 through my work. In football, I have negotiated close to $1 billion in contracts. Why would I get involved in this dirty business?”

It is a pertinent question. The French criminal investigation has yet to charge anyone, and whilst it appears that there are holes in some of PMD’s arguments, others appear to hold true. It does appear that there are gaps and inaccuracies in the evidence against him. Given the apparent lack of concrete evidence, whether you side with WADA’s version of events or Papa Massata Diack’s appears to come down to which narrative you are prepared to accept.

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