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Ex-world athletics chief Diack convicted in Paris graft trial

A Paris court on Wednesday sentenced former world athletics chief Lamine Diack to jail time for corruption linked to doping by mainly Russian athletes and for financial misconduct.

Paris, 17 September 2020 (dpa/MIA) – A Paris court on Wednesday sentenced former world athletics chief Lamine Diack to jail time for corruption linked to doping by mainly Russian athletes and for financial misconduct.

Diack, 87, was sentenced to two years in prison, with another two years suspended, according to the judgement. The verdict can be appealed.

The court did not order Diack to be taken into custody. Due to his high age, he may qualify for immediate probation if the conviction is upheld.

Diack was also fined 500,000 euros (592,485 dollars) and permanently banned from any professional activity in sports.

Diack headed the world athletics governing body IAAF – since renamed World Athletics – from 1999 to 2015.

He was arrested in France in 2015, after French prosecutors received a complaint from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and released on bail after questioning.

An independent commission set up by WADA alleged in a report the following year that corruption was “embedded” in the IAAF under Diack.

The WADA report described Russia as a “doping haven,” and the IAAF has banned Russia from competing as a nation in international athletics events since 2015.

The IAAF under Diack displayed “an evident lack of political appetite … to confront Russia with the full extent of its known and suspected doping activities,” the WADA commission said.

The court said Diack had acknowledged delaying sanctions on Russian athletes in order to protect the IAAF’s finances.

He also sought funding from Russian authorities for election campaigns in his native Senegal in 2012, in return for slowing down sanctions procedures, the court said.

Diack’s son Papa Massata Diack, who was tried in absentia, was found guilty of corruption and of complicity in his father’s corrupt activities.

The younger Diack, who is wanted on an Interpol red notice, remains in Senegal.

The two Diacks were also convicted of financial offences over commissions and bonuses that Papa Massata Diack received in relation to IAAF contracts including sponsorship and broadcasting deals.

Papa Massata Diack was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 1 million euros.

Two former Russian athletics officials, Valentin Balakhnichev and Alexei Melnikov, who were also being tried in absentia, were sentenced to three years and two years in prison respectively on corruption charges linked to the doping affair.

Diack’s lawyer at the time of the alleged offences, Habib Cisse, and the then head of the IAAF’s medical and anti-doping service, Gabriel Dolle, were also convicted on related charges.

Cisse was jailed for one year, with another two years suspended, while Dolle got a two-year suspended sentence.

The verdict marked the first time a French court handed down convictions for corruption in an international sports governing body, prosecutors said.

The court ordered the defendants to jointly pay World Athletics a total of 10.6 million euros in compensation for lost financial opportunities as well as moral and reputational damage.

The Diacks were ordered to pay the body an additional 5.2 million euros in compensation for losses resulting from their financial misconduct.

The defendants were ordered to pay WADA 200,000 euros in compensation for moral prejudice, and a symbolic 1-euro compensation for moral prejudice to the International Olympic Committee, as requested by its lawyer.

An athlete was also awarded compensation of 30,000 euros due to losses she suffered after being placed just behind a Russian athlete, involved in the doping affair, at the 2011 Chicago marathon.

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