Dubai: World Athletics has been among the first in hailing the sentencing of former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack to two years in prison after being found guilty of corruption by a French court, late on Wednesday.
Diack, who led athletics’ worldwide governing body from 1999 to 2015, was also given a further two years of suspended jail time and has been fined 500,000 euros (Dh2.16 million) following his conviction on charges linked to the Russian doping scandal.
The 87-year-old has been convicted on several corruption charges but found not guilty of “organised money laundering” by the Paris Criminal Court.
Lamine Diack was found to have covered up Russian doping cases so athletes from the country could compete at major events including the 2012 Olympic Games in London and the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, in exchange for cash.
His son Papa Massata, who refuses to be extradited from Senegal, was convicted and jailed for five years in absentia. The former marketing consultant at the IAAF, now called World Athletics, has been fined 1 million euros.
Papa Massata was found to have siphoned off $15 million, including commissions, from television contracts and the sale of rights, to his companies while his father led the IAAF. Both Lamine and Papa Massata Diack have been ordered to pay World Athletics 5 million euros in damages for breach of trust.
It was also a victory for World Athletics as the world governing body for athletics was awarded a total of 16 million euros in damages.
“This has been a long five years and we would like to thank the French prosecutors and the Paris Criminal Court for their time, detailed work and deliberations in to this case. Whilst we are disappointed this happened in our sport, we are grateful for the strong and clear decisions that have been taken against the individuals involved and charged with these crimes, and we would like to reassure everyone that the reforms our Congress approved in 2016 will ensure that similar actions by individuals can never happen again in our sport,” WA said in a statement released to media.
“We are grateful for the damages awarded by the Paris Criminal Court totalling 16 million euros for embezzled funds and for reputational damage suffered as a direct consequence of these crimes and the resulting media coverage. As the Court acknowledged, this damage has impacted World Athletics’ finances and had a negative impact on World Athletics’ image and reputation in a deep and lasting way. We will do everything we can to recover the monies awarded, and return them to the organisation for the development of athletics globally,” the statement added.
All four other defendants — Gabriel Dolle, the former head of anti-doping at the IAAF, Lamine Diack’s adviser Habib Cisse, ex-Russian Athletics Federation President Valentin Balakhnichev and Alexei Melnikov, the former the former head distance coach of the Russian national team — were also found guilty. Dolle has been a two-year suspended sentence, while Balakhnichev has been given a three-year jail term.