A sports corruption trial involving several prominent figures in the track and field world finally began on Monday in Paris, with former IIAF president Lamine Diack among those alleged to be involved in a series of doping cover-ups and illicit payoffs.
Over the course of six days, the court will hear evidence that Russian athletes were paid millions of dollars to cover their suspected doping in order to be able to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, among other competitions. Diack, who appeared in court on the opening day, is one of the alleged recipients of the payments.
Diack served as the sport’s governing body president for 16 years, playing a prominent role during the era that saw Usain Bolt rise to super-stardom and as a result track and field becoming increasingly popular on the global stage. After stepping down in 2015, Diack was arrested in France and investigators revealed accusations of athletes accepting money to hide their doping cases. He has been detained in France since the arrest.
Diack is officially being tried for corruption, money laundering and breach of trust. Prosecutors allege he solicited 3.45 million Euros (3.9 million USD) from athletes in order to clear their names from doping suspicion.
Additionally, Diack has also been charged for involvement in a USD 1.5 million payment from Russia for use in electoral politics in his native country of Senegal. Prosecutors say the money was for financing presidential and legislative election campaigns in Senegal in exchange for slowing down doping cases targeting Russian athletes.
Papa Massata Diack, Lamine’s son, is also a defendant in the case. A request from his lawyer to have the case delayed due to two other lawyer being unable to attend due to travel restrictions was rejected. The case has already been delayed for five months in order to include new evidence.
Papa Massata Diack faces corruption, money laundering and breach of trust charges. Lamine also allegedly enabled his son to embezzle IAAF sponsorship revenue from various companies.
Also on trial is lawyer Habib Cisse, doctor Gabriel Dolle, former IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev, and Russian coach Alexei Melnikov.