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Corruption ‘embedded’ in IAAF organisation, Wada panel says

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) panel tasked with investigating allegations of widespread doping in athletics has claimed that senior executives on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council must have known about the scale of doping in Russia, but has backed current president Sebastian Coe to lead the sport out of its crisis.

The Wada Independent Commission today (Thursday) released the second half of its report into the scandal, with the first half having led to the IAAF suspending the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) on November 26 following allegations of state-sponsored doping.

“It is increasingly clear that far more IAAF staff knew about the problems than has currently been acknowledged,” the report, written by former Wada president Dick Pound, stated. “It is not credible that elected officials were unaware of the situation affecting… athletics in Russia. If, therefore, the circle of knowledge was so extensive why was nothing done? Quite obviously there was no appetite on the part of the IAAF to challenge Russia.”

The report added: “The corruption was embedded in the organisation. It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on its own.” The Commission found that former IAAF president Lamine Diack “was responsible for organising and enabling the conspiracy and corruption” that took place. The report said Diack “sanctioned and appears to have had personal knowledge of the fraud and the extortion of athletes.”

The Wada Commission apportioned considerable blame on the IAAF Council, the executive body that included Coe. The report said that council members “could not have been unaware of the level of nepotism that operated within the IAAF,” and also “could not have been unaware of the extent of doping.”

However, Pound (pictured) told a news conference in Munich: “As far as the ability of Lord Coe to remain as leader of the IAAF, I think it's a fabulous opportunity for the IAAF to seize this chance and under strong leadership move forward. There's an enormous amount of reputational recovery that has to occur and I can't think of anyone better than Lord Coe to lead that.”

The report touched on a relationship between Diack and Russian President Vladimir Putin. With cases against nine Russian athletes unresolved ahead of the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, the report said that Diack had explained to a lawyer that he is in a “difficult position that could only be resolved by President Putin of Russia with whom he had struck up a friendship.”

Diack was described as essentially running the IAAF as his own fiefdom, with “a close inner circle” that functioned “as an illegitimate governance structure,” including the subject of Russian doping. The inner circle included Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, and his personal lawyer, Habib Cissé, who functioned as a “powerful rogue group.”

Richard McClaren, a member of the Independent Commission, added: “The information the independent commission has very clearly indicates that the disruption of the federation emanated from the very top – the president Lamine Diack. He inserted his personal legal adviser Habib Cissé into the IAAF medical and anti-doping department in November of 2011 with the London 2012 and the Moscow 2013 world championships coming up. He did so to enable Cissé to manage and follow up Russian athlete biological passport cases.”

McLaren added that Diack’s inner circle may also have corrupted the bidding process for IAAF World Championships and sponsorship deals. The report recommended a “forensic examination” of the processes behind the controversial awarding of the 2021 World Championships to Eugene in the US.

The report also indicated that Diack, a former International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, was prepared to sell his vote in the bidding process for the 2020 Olympic Games in exchange for sponsorship for IAAF events. The accusation emerged when Turkish track officials appeared to record a meeting with Diack's son, Khalil. Istanbul’s Turkish candidacy for the 2020 Games eventually lost out to Tokyo, with the Japanese capital awarded the event in September 2013.

The report said: “Turkey lost LD's support because they did not pay sponsorship moneys of $4-5m either to the Diamond League or IAAF. According (to) the transcript the Japanese did pay such a sum.” The Independent Commission said it did not investigate this matter further as it did not fall under its remit, but Pound added that it has been brought to the attention of the IAAF.