Diack sentenced to two years in prison
Former track federation president Lamine Diack was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison for corruption during his nearly 16-year tenure at the IAAF, most notably a scheme that allowed Russian athletes, who paid millions in hush money to keep competing when they should have been suspended for doping.
The guilty verdict in a Paris court represented a spectacular fall from grace for the 87-year-old Diack, who was the powerful head of the IAAF (now World Athletics) from 1999-2015 and mixed with world leaders and was influential in the world of Olympic sports. The court also sentenced Diack to another two years of suspended jail time and fined him US$590,000.
His lawyers said they will appeal, keeping Diack out of jail for now. Diack did not comment as he walked out of court.
One of Diack’s lawyers, Simon Ndiaye, called the verdict “unjust and inhuman” and said the court made his client a “scapegoat.”
Acquitted of money laundering
Diack was found guilty of multiple corruption charges and of breach of trust but acquitted of a money laundering charge.
Among those in court, and thrilled by the verdict, was French marathon runner Christelle Daunay. She competed against one of the Russian athletes, runner Liliya Shobukhova, who later testified to investigators about illicit payments to hush up doping. Beaten by Shobukhova at the 2011 Chicago Marathon, Daunay was a civil party to the case.
Speaking after the court awarded her damages totalling US$53,000, Daunay described the verdict as a victory for all athletes who were robbed of prizes and results by having to race against competitors who should have sanctioned but instead paid to benefit from the doping cover-up.
Diack, wearing a white robe, sat impassive in front of the chief judge as she read out the guilty verdict and sentence.
The court also handed guilty verdicts to five other people, including Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, who worked as an IAAF marketing consultant. The judge said US$15 million was funnelled to the younger Diack’s companies, including commissions and money creamed off contracts and the sale of TV rights and other transactions while his father was in charge at the IAAF. The federation is now called World Athletics, part of the makeover undertaken by the federation to rebuild its reputation battered by the Diacks.