PARIS (Reuters) – Lamine Diack, the disgraced former head of the IAAF Sports Association, will be brought to justice in Paris on Monday for corruption and money laundering related to a Russian doping scandal.
Lamine Diack answers a question at a press conference in Beijing, China, in this file picture from August 20, 2015. REUTERS / Jason Lee / Files
The trial of 86-year-old Diack, who is under house arrest in Paris, takes place five years after the public prosecutor's investigation. You have described a network of corruption that has been widespread in the world's athletics, including bribery and extortion, to cover up positive drug tests.
Diack has denied misconduct. His lawyers described him as a "man of values and principles" and said the allegations were unfounded.
"He is someone who has devoted almost his entire life to the public and sports," Diack lawyer Simon Ndiaye told Reuters. "We deny all charges against which he is charged."
The trial is expected to last two weeks. Money laundering alone has a prison sentence of up to 10 years in France.
Diack, Senegalese and head of the IAAF from 1999 to 2015, was one of the most influential men in athletics. His arrest plunged the sports association into an unprecedented crisis.
Diack's co-accused is his son Papa Massata, who worked as a marketing consultant for the IAAF. Senegal has refused to extradite Papa Massata and he will be tried in absentia.
Lawyers across France have been on strike over planned pension reforms, and the process may be delayed if one of the six suspects fails to produce a defense team.
Prosecutors launched their investigation in 2015 after the IAAF ethics committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) uncovered evidence that a Russian marathon runner had paid $ 600,000 to cover up a positive drug test to make her in 2012 London could compete in the Olympics.
The prosecutor highlighted what she described as the "extremely complacent" attitude of the IAAF towards the Russian Athletics Association.
Diack acknowledges the talks with the Russians, but denies that the sanctions for personal benefit have been lifted, his lawyer said.
In another case, French prosecutors are investigating suspected bribes related to the Olympic Games and World Athletics Championships. They suspect that Tokyo's bidding committee bribed the diacks in 2013 to get votes – an allegation that the committee contested.
The role of Dentsu Inc, Japan's largest advertising agency, and its Swiss-based business partner Athletics Management & Services AG (AMS) is examined as part of this investigation.
For almost two decades, Dentsu has been working with the IAAF to market its media and sponsorship rights in most parts of the world, while delegating some regions and responsibilities to the AMS. In 2014, Dentsu and the IAAF agreed to extend their rights agreement until 2029.
Sebastian Coe, Diack's successor, is committed to restoring confidence in athletics and making changes in sports governance, including the establishment of an independent athlete integrity department that monitors doping and corruption issues.
Reporting by Simon Carraud; Additional reporting by Richard Lough in Paris and Nathan Layne in New York; Writing by Richard Lough; Cut by Giles Elgood