Diack trial: Prosecutors request 4 years in jail, big fine
PARIS (AP) — French prosecutors on Wednesday requested a four-year jail term and a fine of 500,000 euros ($562,000) for Lamine Diack, the former IAAF president standing trial for corruption, money laundering and breach of trust.
Prosecutors say that Diack, an 87-year-old Senegalese who led track and field’s governing body for nearly 16 years, directly or indirectly solicited 3.45 million euros ($3.9 million) from athletes suspected by the IAAF of doping.
The athletes allegedly paid to have their names cleared in order to continue competing.
“The IAAF tripped on the hurdle of corruption,” prosecutor Arnaud de Laguiche said Wednesday on the hearing’s penultimate day. “(People like) Diack live like little emperors, they have their little courts and people court them.”
The Paris court has considered allegations that top athletes paid millions of dollars in illicit payoffs to corrupt administrators led by Diack — once among the most influential leaders in Olympic sports.
About two dozen Russian athletes were reportedly involved, with Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova testifying that she paid 450,000 euros ($506,000).
“The main issue here is how could doped athletes take part in competitions? The first layer is institutionalized doping in Russia. The second layer of the (cake) is the slowing down of suspensions,” de Laguiche said. “The IAAF is the paradise of conflict of interests. … Diack tied the slowing down of suspensions of Russian athletes to his (election) interests in Senegal.”
A lawyer representing the World Anti-Doping Agency, a civil party to the case, also took a swipe.
“Between 2011-15 Mr. Diack chose money, dishonesty and corruption – that’s a reality,” Emmanuel Daoud said Wednesday. “Can Mr. Diack look in the mirror with pride?”
The IAAF at the time under Diack’s guidance provided “a system of total protection (for Russian doping) … (whereby) the cheats are never punished,” Daoud added.
Wearing a light blue robe on Wednesday, Diack sometimes looked forlorn as he sat slumped in a chair with his head bowed. But at other times he was sprightly, cheerful and smiling as he grabbed one person by the arm and led him away for a quick talk during a break in proceedings.
Prosecutor Francois-Xavier Dulin expanded on Diack’s links with Russia, alluding to the apparent benefit gained by slowing suspensions.
“In 2011 Lamine Diack went to Moscow, where he was received by Vladimir Putin,” Dulin said, later adding: “Diack built houses in Dakar for his IAAF employees.”
Diack signed an agreement to pay his son Papa Massata Diack $1,200 per day and expenses for consultancy work, negotiating tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship deals for the IAAF.
The Diacks both deny corruption.