Papa Massata Diack fixed on his fate on appeal

Papa Massata Diack, son of former world athletics boss Lamine Diack, will be set on his fate this Thursday: the Paris Court of Appeal, where he was retried for corruption in the global Russian doping scandal, must announce its decision at the beginning of the afternoon.

The former marketing consultant for the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) was sentenced in September 2020 to five years in prison and a fine of one million euros for complicity in a bribery scheme. aimed at hiding cases of blood doping among Russian athletes in 2011, a year before the London Olympics.

By dragging out the sanction procedures against these athletes with suspicious biological passports, the IAAF had allowed some of them to participate in these Games.

In return, the major Russian sponsors had renewed their partnership contracts with the IAAF, which has since become World Athletics, for the 2013 Worlds in Moscow.

Nicknamed “PMD“, Diack son had also been found guilty of having embezzled funds to the tune of 15 million euros on sponsorship contracts, via an assembly of front companies.

Aged 57, Mr. Diack has always affirmed his innocence from Senegal, which he says he cannot leave because he is under judicial control in this same case. For his lawyers, the commissions paid were “proportionalto the importance of contracts, and it was he who convinced the big institutions to sponsor a federation that was underfunded at the time.

The lawyer for the international federation, Me Régis Bergonzi, had denounced during the appeal trial in January a “banana organizationof the IAAF in the time of Lamine Diack, between 1999 and 2015, a president surrounded by faithful and who monetized loyalties.

Among the civil parties, World Athletics claims a total of 41.2 million euros in damages, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) a symbolic euro and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) 300,000 euros in compensation.

All finally suspended

At first instance, five other protagonists, including Lamine Diack, were convicted. Diack senior and the former IAAF anti-doping chief, Frenchman Gabriel Dollé, died in 2021 and the charges died out. Two Russian sports officials at the material time, Valentin Balakhnitchev and Alexei Melnikov, did not appeal.

In January, only the former presidential legal adviser Habib Cissé appeared before the court of appeal. Sentenced at first instance to three years in prison, including two years suspended, a fine of 100,000 euros and a five-year ban on practicing as a lawyer, he has also always denied having been an accomplice in the Russian affair.

The 52-year-old former personal adviser to Lamine Diack, thus assured the bar that the notifications concerning several athletes to the Russian federation (ARAF) had been processed at the “case by case”, depending on the degree of suspicion of doping, underlining that all the suspected athletes had finally been suspended.

Mr. Cissé had also been found guilty of having received 3.45 million euros, withdrawn from Russian athletes in exchange for a “protection totale», that is to say their disappearance from the list of athletes suspected of doping.

The investigators had found a list at his home containing the names of several athletes and sums of money. They had also unearthed a text message conversation with “PMD» where it was about «refund».

«Appearances are overwhelming“, he had admitted, ensuring however that he had “never asked for money».

The public prosecutor’s office requested confirmation of the first instance judgment for the two men.

The affair, which had shaken the world of sport, had been revealed by the agent of the Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova, who had paid 450,000 euros to disappear from the list. Finally suspended in 2014, she had asked for a refund and received 300,000 euros from an account in Singapore which made it possible to go back to “PMD».



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