The former boss of world athletics was sentenced Wednesday in Paris to prison, for his involvement in a corruption network dedicated to hiding doping cases in Russia.
The 87-year-old Senegalese was found guilty of active and passive corruption and breach of trust and was sentenced to a fine of up to 500,000 euros. His lawyers immediately announced that he was appealing, as Lamine Diack emerged free from the courtroom.
Among the six defendants, the heaviest sentence was pronounced against his son, Papa Massata Diack, who remained in Dakar and had refused to appear at trial in June: he was sentenced to five years in prison and one million d ‘euros fine and the court upheld the arrest warrant against him.
Regarding Lamine Diack, the sentence is up to the “seriousness of the acts of corruption with which you were accused”, launched the president of the 32nd correctional chamber, Rose-Marie Hunault, who ruled that he had “seriously damaged in the fight against doping ”and“ violated the rules of the game of sports competition ”.
The former president of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF, 1999-2015) and his 55-year-old son, who headed marketing at the IAAF, were judged among six protagonists for having allowed delay, from the end of 2011 , disciplinary proceedings against Russian athletes suspected of blood doping, some of whom had been crowned at the London 2012 Olympics (Kirdyapkin 50 km walk, Zaripova 3,000 m steeplechase) before being deposed for doping.
Behind this indulgence, an incredible deal, revealed by Lamine Diack himself during the investigation and confirmed by the court: the renewal of IAAF sponsorship and broadcasting contracts with the Russian state bank VTB and public television RTR, as well as funds to finance opposition to incumbent Abdoulaye Wade during the 2012 presidential election in Senegal. During the trial, Lamine Diack had refuted any political funding.
The four other players in the trial were all convicted: the former IAAF anti-doping chief, Gabriel Dollé, received a 2-year suspended sentence and a 140,000 euros fine, while the lawyer Habib Cissé, who Lamine Diack advised was sentenced to three years in prison, two of which were suspended and a 100,000 euros fine. Two Russian officials tried by default, the former president of the national athletics federation Valentin Balakhnitchev and the former coach Alexeï Melnikov were sentenced to three and two years in prison respectively, with the arrest warrant maintained against them .
From Russia, Valentin Balakhnitchev also announced his intention to challenge the judgment. “They deprived me of my legal right to defend myself, they said that I was not cooperating in the investigation, which I categorically disagree with,” he told Ria Novosti.
In total, the six defendants were also ordered to pay 10.6 million euros in damages to the IAAF on the corruption component.
But Lamine Diack and his son were also convicted of having collected undue sums on IAAF contracts with sponsors. On this aspect, they were ordered to pay 5.2 million euros to the international federation. During the trial Lamine Diack had conceded having given the order to spread the sanctions against the Russians, a version confirmed by Gabriel Dollé. But for them, the financial survival of the IAAF was at stake, an argument that did not convince the court.
“At no time did you question this decision,” launched the president of the court to Lamine Diack. The court ruled that for at least six Russian athletes, disciplinary proceedings had been delayed and that the athletes had to pay for “full protection”.
The central piece of the prosecution is a transfer of 300,000 euros received by the marathon runner Lilya Shobukhova, from an account linked to Papa Massata Diack, as a refund when she was finally suspended in 2014. A note, found at the lawyer Habib Cissé, declines other sums, for a total estimated by the court at 3.2 million euros, but the money was not found and the Russian athletes not heard, which the defense had denounced.
Lamine Diack’s lawyers had demanded an acquittal, but especially hoped that their client would avoid prison. In the immediate future, Lamine Diack has not finished with French justice. With his son, he is implicated in a second investigation in Paris on suspicion of corruption in the attribution of the Rio-2016 and Tokyo-2020 Olympics. Lamine Diack will soon be heard in this matter.
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