Olympics: Ex-athletics chief Lamine Diack back before Paris judge in votes-for-cash inquiry

PARIS (AFP) – The former head of world athletics Lamine Diack was back before a judge in Paris on Thursday (Sept 24) a week after his conviction for corruption in covering up Russian doping cases, judicial sources reported.

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

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

Last week Diack 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 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.

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 Diack, before and after the Japanese capital was awarded the 2020 Games in 2013 by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Lamine Diack was also a member of the IOC and said to have influence over African votes at the time of the Tokyo bid in September 2013.

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

Diack has acknowledged he voted for Tokyo and that he told many of his fellow African IOC members that he had done so. But he denies corruption.

On Monday, Japan’s Kyodo News reported that Black Tidings paid some US$370,000 to Diack’s son before and after Japan was picked to host the Games.

In last week’s judgment Diack, president of IAAF, now renamed World Athletics, from 1999 to 2015, was also fined €500,000 (S$802,000).

He is appealing the verdict but is unlikely to serve time behind bars.

“Given your age you can expect conditional release,” the presiding judge Rose-Marie Hunault told him.

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