Rotten Diack unmasked

MUNICH. — The former head of world athletics, Lamine Diack, ran a clique that covered up organised doping and blackmailed athletes while senior officials looked the other way, independent investigator Dick Pound said on Thursday.

Pound’s report for the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) added to a rapidly growing scandal involving organised doping and its concealment that has rocked world athletics and drawn comparisons with a corruption and governance scandal at the global soccer federation, FIFA.

Despite slamming governance at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), however, Pound exonerated new IAAF president Sebastian Coe, Diack’s vice-president for seven years, and said he was the right man to reform the organisation.

Pound found that Diack, a Senegalese who stepped down last year after 16 years leading the IAAF, was “responsible for organising and enabling the conspiracy and corruption that took place in the IAAF”. He appeared to have personal knowledge of fraud and extortion of athletes carried out by the “informal, illegitimate governance structure” that he had put in place, Pound said.

Diack is already under formal investigation in France on suspicion of corruption and money laundering linked to the concealment of positive drug tests in concert with Russian officials and the blackmailing of the athletes to allow them to continue to compete.

Pound, a former head of WADA, rocked the sport in November with the first part of his report, which led to athletics superpower Russia being banned from competition for state-sponsored doping.

But Thursday’s report said the IAAF’s governing council “could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics and the non-enforcement of applicable anti-doping rules”.

“It is increasingly clear that far more IAAF staff knew about the problems than has currently been acknowledged,” it said. “The corruption was embedded in the organisation. It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own.” Among the failures of governance listed by the report were the employment of Diack’s two sons Papa Massata and Khalil as consultants and Lamine Diack’s ability to divert the handling of Russian doping cases to his personal lawyer, Habib Cisse.

Last week the IAAF’s Ethics Commission banned Massata Diack, former IAAF anti-doping chief Gabriel Dolle, former Russian athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichev and former Russian coach Aleksey Melnikov for covering up a Russian athlete’s positive dope test and then blackmailing her.

Massata Diack, Cisse and Dolle are also under investigation in France along with Lamine Diack, who has been barred from leaving the country. Interpol said it had issued an international wanted notice for Massata Diack. — Reuters.

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