16th September 2020

Lamine Diack sentenced to prison for corruption

Lamine Diack, former President of World Athletics, has been sentenced to four years in prison, two of which are suspended, for accepting Russian bribes to delay anti-doping rule violations (ADRVs), reports AFP. It is understood that Diack plans to appeal. He argues that although he delayed announcing ADRVs, he did do in order to protect contracts with Russia’s VTB Bank and a Russian broadcaster for the Moscow 2013 World Championship. He denies any knowledge of bribes, and disputes the court’s verdict that he delayed Russian ADRVs in exchange for US$1.5 million to finance Macky Sall’s successful 2012 Senegalese Presidential election campaign.

Vitaly Mutko

Prosecutors argued that €3.4 million was paid by 23 Russian athletes, who each paid between €100,000 and €600,000 to former World Athletics officials so that they could compete at the London 2012 Olympics and at Moscow 2013. The doping cases were identified through the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme. Prosecutors alleged that the scheme, dubbed ‘full protection’, was first suggested by Diack at a November 2011 meeting with Vitaly Mukto, Russia’s former Minister of Sport who is now Deputy Prime Minister. 

Papa Massata Diack with current World Athletics President Sebastian Coe…

Lamine’s son Papa Massata Diack, whom he employed as a marketing consultant, has previously confirmed that the meeting took place. “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 told The Sports Integrity Initiative in 2017. “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.”

Diack Jr. also said that at the later request of Valentin Balakhnichev, former President of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) and former World Athletics Treasurer, it was decided to further delay the announcement of the AAFs until after Moscow 2013, in order to avoid jeopardising negotiations with sponsor VTB Bank. Diack Jr. was also sentenced in absentia to five years in prison and fined €1 million; whilst Balakhnichev was sentenced in absentia to two years in prison and a €2 million fine.

Alexey Melnikov, former Head Coach for RusAF’s distance runners, was also sentenced in absentia to three years in prison for his part in the scheme. Habib Cissé, former Legal Advisor to Lamine Diack, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined €100,000. Gabriel Dollé, former Director of World Athletics’ Anti-Doping Department, was sentenced to two years in prison and was fined €144,000. World Athletics was awarded €16 million in damages – it has yet to comment.

It is understood that Lamine Diack, who is 87, is unlikely to serve his jail sentence because of his age. Diack senior and junior are also being investigated by French prosecutors due to allegations that payments and gifts were given to both ahead of the awarding of the Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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