The Paris trial of Lamine Diack, former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), athletics’ world governing body, and fellow co-defendants in the case connected to the Russian doping scandal was today (Monday) adjourned until at least June as French prosecutors said more time was needed to examine evidence.
The decision came on the opening day of the trial, which had been due to run for three days a week until January 23. The AFP news agency said the presiding magistrate in the trial, Arnaud de Laguiche, said further time was needed to assess testimony from Lamine Diack’s son and co-accused, Papa Massata Diack.
Papa Massata Diack has elected to remain in his native Senegal amid the investigation, but AFP, citing a source, said he was questioned in Dakar in November over allegations made against him and his father as part of a separate Senegalese investigation.
De Laguiche said French authorities had only received Diack junior’s testimony on Monday morning, necessitating an adjournment. AFP said the trial is now likely to run from June 3-22.
This would be a year after it first emerged that Lamine Diack, former president of the IAAF, which is now known as World Athletics, would stand trial in France, along with five other ex-athletics officials.
Lamine Diack, who led the IAAF from 1999 to 2015, and his son, who served as a marketing consultant to the IAAF, are said to have received payments in exchange for obstructing sanctions against Russia.
Arrested in France in 2015, 86-year-old Lamine Diack has been charged with “giving and receiving bribes”, “breach of trust” and “organised money laundering”, the latter of which carries a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Diack junior is alleged to have played a “central role” in the network of corruption and is charged with “money laundering”, “giving bribes” and “aiding the receiving of bribes”. The probe stems from the wide-ranging uncovering in 2015 by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) of an alleged system of state-sponsored doping run by Russia.
Prosecutors allege that Lamine Diack was prepared to accept funding for political campaigns in Senegal in return for lenient treatment by IAAF anti-doping officials of Russian athletes. This agreement is also alleged to have aided talks with Russian sponsors and broadcasters ahead of Moscow’s staging of the 2013 World Athletics Championships.
Also attending court today were co-defendants Habib Cissé, Lamine Diack’s former advisor; and former anti-doping director of the IAAF, Gabriel Dolle.
Cissé has been accused of acting as an intermediary between the then-IAAF and Russian athletics officials. Dolle has been accused of “receiving bribes”. Valentin Balakhnichev, who was both president of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) and IAAF treasurer, was also charged along with Russia’s former national middle distance coach Alexei Melnikov.
Balakhnichev has been accused of “giving and receiving bribes” and “aggravated money-laundering”. Melnikov is accused of “receiving bribes,” with both men the subject of international arrest warrants.
RusAF remains suspended by World Athletics, a ban that was first imposed in November 2015 after the McLaren report uncovered widespread doping in the country’s sporting system and was subsequently extended in September.
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