Diack back in court over votes-for-cash scandal

Former IAAF president Lamine Diack, 87, was back before a judge in Paris on Thursday, a week after being convicted for corruption.
Former IAAF president Lamine Diack, 87, was back before a judge in Paris on Thursday, a week after being convicted for corruption.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PARIS • The former head of world athletics Lamine Diack was back before a judge in Paris on Thursday a week after his conviction for corruption in covering up Russian doping cases, judicial sources reported.

This time, the 87-year-old was being quizzed as part of an investigation into an alleged votes-for-cash scandal involving the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo respectively.

Diack "was interviewed today" confirmed one of his lawyers, Simon Ndiaye, without disclosing any further details.

Last week, the Senegalese was sentenced to four years in prison, two of which were suspended, for his part in hushing up 23 Russian doping offences so the athletes involved could compete at the 2012 London Olympics and 2013 world championships in Moscow.

Other former senior figures in track and field, including Diack's son, Papa Massata Diack, and the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) former head of anti-doping Gabriel Dolle, were also given prison terms for their part in the scheme.

Thursday's judicial outing not only concerned the case of Rio and Tokyo, but also the attribution of the world athletics championships in 2015 to Beijing, and in 2017 and 2019 when Qatar was a candidate.

Along with his son, Diack is suspected of taking bribes, some disguised as lobbying contracts, in return for lending support to the host cities.

French authorities are probing payments of US$1.197 million (S$1.64 million) and US$1.685 million by the Tokyo bid committee to Black Tidings, a Singapore-based firm linked to Papa Massata, before and after the Japanese capital was awarded the 2020 Games in 2013 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

As a former member of the IOC, Diack had influence over African votes at the time of the Tokyo bid in September 2013.

The former head of the Tokyo bid committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, was charged with corruption in December 2018 by French investigating magistrates.

Diack has since acknowledged he voted for the Japanese capital and told many of his fellow African IOC members that he had done so, but denies corruption.

On Monday, Japan's Kyodo News reported that Black Tidings paid some US$370,000 to Papa Massata before and after Tokyo was picked as hosts.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2020, with the headline 'Diack back in court over votes-for-cash scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe