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French prosecutors broaden corruption probe to include Olympic bids

French prosecutors investigating corruption in world athletics have expanded their probe to include the bidding and voting processes that led to Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo being awarded hosting rights to the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, according to The Guardian.

The UK newspaper said it understands that French financial prosecutors are moving beyond their investigation into wrongdoing at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which has led to multiple arrests including that of the former president Lamine Diack and an international warrant being issued for his son, the organisation’s former marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack.

Rio saw off competition from Madrid, Chicago and Tokyo to land the 2016 Games in October 2009, while the Japanese capital emerged victorious against Madrid and Istanbul to secure the 2020 summer Olympics in September 2013.

The Guardian reported in January that Papa Massata Diack had appeared to arrange for “parcels” to be delivered to six International Olympic Committee (IOC) members in 2008 at a time when Qatar was bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games. Qatar ultimately failed to make it past the shortlisting stage and has denied any wrongdoing.

The email went on to appear to suggest that six individuals, referred to only by initials that correspond with those of six members of the IOC at the time, had requested “to have their parcels delivered through Special Adviser in Monaco”. Sources said the “special adviser” in question was likely to be Lamine Diack.

The Guardian added that the French investigation is understood to be at an early stage but is likely to examine the role of Lamine Diack, an IOC member from 1999 to 2013, in the bidding races for the 2016 and 2020 Games.

A spokesman for the IOC said: “The IOC has been in close contact with the French prosecutors since the beginning of this investigation last year. The IOC’s chief ethics and compliance officer had already asked for the IOC to be fully informed in a timely manner of all issues that may refer to Olympic matters and has already applied to become a party to the investigations led by the French judicial authorities.”

The latest development comes after the Tokyo 2020 organising committee in January labelled allegations in a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report into doping in athletics as “beyond our understanding.” The Wada Independent Commission report contained a reference to the potential influence of corrupt payments on the assigning of event hosts.

A footnote to the Wada report indicated that Lamine Diack was prepared to sell his vote in the 2020 Olympic Games bidding competition in exchange for sponsorship of IAAF events. The accusation emerged when Turkish athletics officials appeared to record a meeting with Diack’s son, Khalil.

The report said: “Turkey lost LD’s (Lamine Diack’s) support because they did not pay sponsorship moneys of $4-5m (€3.7-4.6m) either to the Diamond League or IAAF. According (to) the transcript the Japanese did pay such a sum. The 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo. The IC did not investigate this matter further for it was not within our remit.”

Richard McClaren, one of the three members of the Wada Independent Commission, also said there was sufficient information that the bidding processes for every IAAF World Championships from 2009 up to the 2019 edition in Doha deserved further scrutiny.