Lamine Diack barred from leaving France

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Former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) chief Lamine Diack reportedly remains barred from leaving France as an investigation continues following him being charged with corruption and aggravated money laundering.

The 84-year-old Senegalese official, who was replaced by Sebastian Coe as IAAF President in 2015, was charged as part of a French investigation on November 4, 2015. 

He has been held under house arrest in Paris as an investigation continues.

Among other things, he is accused of involvement in a plot to accept money in return for the covering up of doping cases. An investigation is also exploring allegations that he received money in return for influencing the result of Olympic bid processes for the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games.

There have been few developments over recent months, however, leading some to conclude that investigatory work may have ceased.

But, according to the Agence France-Presse, a Paris appeal’s court decision dated December 21 ruled that there was an “elevated risk” that Diack would “escape French justice” if he was allowed to leave the country. 

The body also reportedly said that “French judicial authorities” are continuing to “try in vain to interview” Diack’s son, Papa Massata, who has accused France of having “taken hostage” his father.

Papa Massata Diack was banned for life from athletics in 2016 by the IAAF’s Ethics Commission, which concluded that figures within the organization had been “guilty of blackmail” since 2011.

Former IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev, previously the Soviet national athletics coach from 1978 to 1984, was also banned for life along with long-distance running and race-walking coach Alexei Melnikov.

Lamine Diack is also implicated in a probe into a $2 million (£1.3 million/€1.7 million) “consultancy fee” paid by the Tokyo 2020 bid team to Singapore-based Black Tidings before they were successfully awarded the Olympics in 2013.

Black Tidings head Ian Tan Tong Han has been linked with Papa Massata. 

Similar allegations emerged last year surrounding Rio 2016’s successful bid in 2009.

Former Rio 2016 and Brazilian Olympic Committee President Carlos Nuzman was officially charged by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office in Brazil in October after being suspected of being the main link between Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho, a businessman nicknamed “King Arthur”, and Diack.

De Menezes allegedly provided at least $1.5 million (£1.2 million/€1.4 million) through a company set-up by Papa Massata to help solicit the votes of African IOC members in return for supporting Rio 2016. 

Lamine Diack’s lawyer Daouda Diop did not respond when contacted by AFP.

Both Lamine and Papa Massata Diack deny all wrongdoing.

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