Former IAAF president Lamine Diack's son 'very active' in corruption
French authorities investigating former IAAF president Lamine Diack say one of his sons was "very active" in an alleged "system of corruption" that sought to blackmail athletes, with demands of money to cover up suspected doping.
In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, France's national financial prosecutor said investigators have verified that Lamine Diack, who presided for nearly 16 years at track and field's governing body, pocketed "more than 1 million euro " from the alleged cash-for-silence scheme.
Evidence from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that triggered the French probe suggests that a Turkish athlete, as well as athletes from Russia, was a victim of a blackmail attempt allegedly involving Diack's family, prosecutor Eliane Houlette said.
According to WADA's findings, at least one of Diack's sons approached Turkish runner Asli Cakir Alptekin a few months after she won gold in the 1,500 metres at the London 2012 Olympics and suggested she could pay to quash a doping positive based on her blood readings.
"It was a sort of blackmail," Ms Houlette said. "She refused."
Alptekin was subsequently banned for eight years, for the second anti-doping rule violation of her career, and forfeited her gold in a settlement with the IAAF which concluded in August this year.
"This athlete's case figures in the report that the World Anti-Doping Agency gave us," Ms Houlette said. But Alptekin has not yet been interviewed by three French investigating magistrates now seeking to determine exactly how many athletes were approached, how much they paid and whether the elder Diack, in his role as IAAF president, simply turned a blind eye or was an active organiser.
A former long jumper who stepped down in August from the IAAF, Diack was taken into police custody last Sunday and released two days later after being formally placed under investigation on preliminary charges of corruption and money laundering.
His legal adviser at the IAAF, Habib Cisse, was also detained and charged with corruption. So, too, was Gabriel Dolle, a doctor who managed the anti-doping program at the IAAF.
In the AP interview, Ms Houlette said the son, Papa Massata Diack, who worked under his father as an IAAF marketing consultant, is also thought to have played a "very active" role in the alleged corruption.
"We didn't arrest Mr Diack's son because he didn't come to Paris when he was meant to. But he is also implicated in this affair," she said. "We haven't had the opportunity to arrest him in France. We would have done so if we could."
At least six athletes are thought to have been told that their suspected doping could be covered up, allowing them to continue competing, if they paid.
"It's a form of blackmail when you say to someone: 'Pay or you can't compete,'" said Ms Houlette. "I don't know if we can call it a mafia system but it is a system of corruption. It's extremely serious."
Asked how much Diack senior is believed to have pocketed, she replied: "From what we've verified, it is more than 1 million euro and this money seemingly transmitted through the Russian athletics federation."
"Because the investigations have just started, we cannot affirm that all this money came from payments from Russian athletes," she said. "What is certain is that Mr Cisse, the legal adviser to Mr Diack, travelled to Russia and gave to the Russian federation the list of Russian athletes suspected of doping and, in exchange for sums of money, these athletes weren't sanctioned."