Former IAAF president Diack to stand trial in France

Former International Association of Athletics Federations president Lamine Diack will stand trial in France, along with five other ex-athletics officials, on charges relating to the Russian doping scandal, according to multiple reports today (Monday).

The Agence France-Presse news agency, citing sources, said Lamine Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack will stand trial on charges of corruption and money laundering. 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.

“The freeze in sanctions in exchange for financial kickbacks was negotiated by Lamine Diack with Valentin Balakhnichev, who was both president of the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) and IAAF treasurer,” three French judges led by Renaud Van Ruymbeke said in their order to trial, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

Arrested in France in 2015, the Associated Press added that Lamine Diack will be tried on charges of corruption, influence-trafficking, and money laundering. The money-laundering charge alone will carry a potential prison sentence of up to ten years. Diack, who is now 86, has been under orders to remain in France since his arrest; his son, however, has refused to cooperate with authorities and is believed to be in the Diacks’ native Senegal.

A trial date has not been set, but is not expected before next year. Diack’s former advisor, Habib Cisse, and former anti-doping director of the IAAF, Gabriel Dolle, will also face trial along with Balakhnichev and Russia’s former national middle distance coach Alexei Melnikov.

While Lamine Diack has been questioned by French authorities on a number of occasions, his son has chosen to remain in Senegal and has refused to cooperate with the investigation. 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.

The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) remains suspended by the IAAF, a ban that was first imposed in November 2015 after the McLaren report uncovered widespread doping in the country’s sporting system.