Bans for senior IAAF trio over alleged doping cover ups

Former IAAF president Lamine Diack is under investigation by French police while his son Papa Massata Diack has been handed a life ban by the association for conspiring to cover up a positive drugs test by a Russian athlete
Martyn Ziegler

THREE senior IAAF officials have been banned for life for blackmailing athletes and covering up positive drugs tests.

Papa Massata Diack, the son of the then IAAF president Lamine Diack, Valentin Balakhnichev, former Russian athletic federation (ARAF) president and IAAF treasurer Alexei Melnikov, a senior ARAF coach, have all been handed lifetime bans.

Gabriel Dolle, who was the IAAF’s anti-doping director, has been given a five-year ban for his part in the doping scandal which has rocked world athletics.

The findings by the IAAF’s ethics commission lay bare the corruption involving the senior figures in athletics, with the trio found to have blackmailed Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, London marathon winner in 2010, and made her pay a bribe for a positive drugs test to be covered up.

Lamine Diack, who was succeeded as president by Lord Coe in August, is himself under investigation by French police on suspicion of taking more than €1million (£746,000) to cover up positive tests.

The ethics commission’s findings state: “The head of a national federation, the senior coach of a major national team and a marketing consultant for the IAAF conspired together (and, it may yet be proven with others too) to conceal for more than three years anti-doping violations by an athlete at what appeared to be the highest pinnacle of her sport.

“All three compounded the vice of what they did by conspiring to extort what were in substance bribes from Liliya Shobukhova by acts of blackmail. 

“They acted dishonestly and corruptly and did unprecedented damage to the sport of track and field which, by their actions, they have brought into serious disrepute.”

The commission’s report also refers to allegations from Russia’s deputy sports minister Yuri Nagorny that “at least” five other Russian athletes were also involved.

According to Nagorny, the report states, “a system was put in place at the IAAF level under which athletes with an abnormal blood passport profile would be allowed to keep competing at high level in exchange of cash payments made to the IAAF”.

The IAAF said it was “angered” that its former officials had blackmailed Shobukhova and that they were no longer involved with the organisation.

A statement said: “The IAAF is angered to see that individuals have in the panel’s finding ‘conspired to extort what were in substance bribes from the athlete by acts of blackmail’.

“The IAAF has already introduced corrective measures to make sure this sort of interference can’t happen again.

“These four individuals who have been found guilty and sanctioned are no longer associated with the IAAF in any capacity.”

Coe added: “The life bans announced today could not send a stronger message that those who attempt to corrupt or subvert the sport of athletics will be brought to justice.”

The commission also confirms it is investigating Lamine Diack, from Senegal, and his legal advisor Habib Cisse, who according to the report also played a major role in the Russian cover-up.

Cisse, Dolle and both Diacks are also subjects of the French police investigation.


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