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Sunday 18 August 2019

Ex-IAAF president under criminal investigation over corruption claims

Lamine Diack stepped down from the IAAF in August (AP)
Lamine Diack stepped down from the IAAF in August (AP)

Former IAAF president Lamine Diack has been placed under criminal investigation on corruption and money-laundering charges, French authorities have said.

He is suspected of taking at least 200,000 euro (£141,400) from Russia to cover up positive doping tests, they added.

The French office that handles financial prosecutions said a legal adviser to Mr Diack, Habib Cisse, also was placed under investigation by judges acting on evidence provided by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Mr Diack stepped down in August after 16 years in charge of track and field's governing body.

With football officials at Fifa also facing criminal investigations for alleged corruption, two of the most powerful governing bodies in sports are now operating under dark clouds with their credibility at risk.

The French prosecutors' office said three investigating magistrates are handling the Mr Diack probe.

Gabriel Dolle, who was the director of the IAAF's anti-doping department, also has been taken into custody in Nice in the south of France, the national financial prosecutors' office in Paris said.

Police also visited the IAAF headquarters in Monaco on Tuesday "to carry out interviews and to access documentation", the IAAF said.

French judges placed Mr Diack under formal investigation on corruption and aggravated money-laundering charges. Mr Cisse faces only the corruption charge.

The IAAF said it is "fully co-operating with all investigations as it has been from the beginning of the process".

Sebastian Coe, who succeeded Mr Diack as IAAF president, was in the organisation's offices when the French police arrived. He volunteered himself for questioning and was questioned, the IAAF said. The police also took away some documents.

WADA first approached French prosecutors in August with evidence of wrongdoing, a senior official at the prosecutors' office said.

The official said Mr Diack is suspected of pocketing "about 200,000 euro" to cover up an as-yet undetermined number of doping positives. The money is thought to have come from the Russian athletics federation, said the official.

"God knows what's going on there," Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said. "We've already said that our federation had problems. The old management isn't working there anymore. Understand that there are a lot of criminal cases going on in the world right now and those are unclear cases."

Claims made in a German television documentary last year of widespread doping and cover-ups in Russia, a track and field superpower, are shaking the sport to its core.

A WADA commission, led by its former president Dick Pound, has been investigating the claims that corruption in Russia and at the IAAF allowed doping to thrive. WADA hopes that Mr Pound's report will be completed this month.

The WADA panel is also examining more recent claims that a third of medals in endurance races at the Olympics and world championships over a 10-year period were won by athletes who recorded suspicious doping tests.

Those allegations in German and British media outlets were based on files from an IAAF database containing the results of confidential blood test results.

Lord Coe, the British middle-distance running champion who led the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics, defeated Ukrainian pole vault great Sergei Bubka in the IAAF election in August in Beijing.

PA Media

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