PARIS – A Paris corruption trial against a once-powerful figure in world sports opened Monday but was quickly adjourned.
The trial against 86-year-old Lamine Diack, the Senegalese former head of World Athletics’ governing body, has been adjourned until June, following new documents from Senegal concerning testimony from Diack’s son and co-defendant.
Diack faces up to 10 years in jail and a heavy fine for corruption and money laundering charges, following a four-year French investigation. He is accused of accepting millions of dollars in bribes to cover up tests showing extensive doping by Russian athletes during his 16 years as head of the International Association of Athletics Federation or IAAF, now known as World Athletics.
The former mayor of Dakar, Diack is under house arrest in Paris. He denies the charges, as do five other defendants.
Among other charges, the prosecution claims Diack received more than $1.5 million in Russian funds to help support his friend Macky Sall’s successful 2012 presidential campaign in Senegal.
In a 2015 BBC interview, he denied allegations of bribery or extortion, or an IAAF cover-up.
“I’m convinced, I know what was in my department,” he said. “I know they work very, very hard in the fight against doping. And I didn’t see any reason to make a cover-up of a doping case.”
Briton Sebastian Coe replaced Diack as the association’s head later that year.
The scandal the trial centers on led to a ban against Russian athletes in several international competitions. Russia as a country is still banned from competing in world athletics.
One of Diack’s sons, Papa Massata Diack, who handled lucrative IAAF contracts, was also to be tried in absentia. He is in Senegal, where authorities refuse to extradite him, despite international arrest warrants.
Papa Massata Diack earlier told France’s TV5 Monde that French investigators should have made an effort to fly to Dakar and question him there.
He was questioned by Senegalese investigators in November.
Source: Voice of America