Maître Hauchecorne is the counsel of Hind Dehiba, former half-cross-country skier, recordwoman of France in the 1,500 meters; like Christelle Daunay, she became a civil party in the lawsuit against Lamine Diack, former boss of world athletics and former leaders of the International Athletics Federation. They are accused of having set up a system of corruption in which Diack and his relatives have received money for having stifled doping cases of Russian athletes. The two civil parties, now mothers, want above all to be recognized as victims of the system that the defendants had built. The lawyer draws the first conclusions from these two weeks of hearing.
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What does this trial tell us about the upper echelons of sports organizations?
International sports institutions are made up of a kind of aristocracy, people who do not have to work for a living and therefore get involved in sport. It is very good to do it and, by the way, it can bring an image gain and money. The top of the basket is also a state of mind, a self, permanent arrangements. Look at how many international federations have seats in tax havens: that makes you think.
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Is this a historic trial? Could he lead others against international sports bodies?
In terms of the dysfunction of an international sports body, the trial of the International Football Federation opened a door, that’s for sure. We are in a historical context because we see that the International Athletics Federation has experienced major dysfunctions. This trial is clearly the open door for the questioning of these international organizations which do not really have checks and balances. This will show victims that a trial is possible and that reparation is too. It is up to the athletes to assert their rights against the institutions, which they have not done too much so far, especially out of fear. This trial could create a precedent, and above all clarify the fact that no one benefits from impunity: at the highest level of world sport, even when we are dating Michelle Obama, Vladimir Putin, the king of Spain, even when we are going to discuss with Nelson Mandela, we are not above the law and ultimately we are caught when we have had behaviors that create prejudice.
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The president of the French Federation, André Giraud, declared that his federation had not had any interest in bringing a civil action because the IAAF was already and that given the dates of the facts there would not have been the possibility to reassign medals.
There is no prescription. The FFA could have brought a civil action, the age of the facts does not prevent the procedure for incorporation as a civil action. The IAAF (now World Athletics) is an entity independent of the national federations, it has its own interests to act. A national federation could have brought a civil action as soon as athletes from its country were injured. Hind Dehiba was unable to participate in the London Olympics in 2012 because of the plan concerted by Lamine Diack and her team, therefore one less athlete for France and one less chance of a medal for the country. Then at the indoor world championships in Istanbul, in March 2012, Hind Dehiba came fifth over 1,500 meters. She finds herself third after two disqualifications for doping in 2015. She is still waiting for the award of this bronze medal and the bonus of 10 000 dollars attached to this place which the IAAF has indicated that the “old” third does not want to return. money (1).
The IAAF ranks among the victims, however five of the defendants worked for it (Diack, his son Papa Massata Diack, Gabriel Dollé, Habib Cissé and Valentin Balakhnichev). Would some sort of objective IAAF liability be possible?
In French law we have the principle of liability of the principal, that is to say the responsibility of the legal entity, one of whose representatives will commit reprehensible acts and may engage the responsibility of his employer. The question will arise at the time of the compensation of the victims, the civil part, with the reparation of the prejudices. The total amounts requested by the civil parties are colossal, it will therefore be necessary to see who will pay knowing that Lamine Diack has no assets and lives on his retirement pension of 1,600 euros, as he himself declared , and that it is his sons who take care of his money needs.
Is there a risk that this trial will end without effective punishment?
Criminal sanctions must be accompanied by a provisional execution, including a warrant. On the civil level, the provisional execution of the provisions should be pronounced by the court. Between the trial at first instance and the appeal, there is no longer any judicial review. In the Balkany case, the Court believes that Patrick Balkany can leave French territory, so the court pronounces a prison sentence with the warrant. We will see what the Tribunal decides.
(1) Contacted by Release, André Giraud maintains his arguments. According to him: the FFA could not go civil since it is under the tutelage of the International Federation itself a civil party and prescription makes it impossible to reassign the medals.