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CAS Upholds Life Ban On Former IAAF Top Officials

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the highest tribunal of sports, has announced that life bans on two top Russian athletics officials and the son of former IAAF President for covering up the positive dope test of an athlete and blackmailing her have been upheld.

In January last year, the Ethics Commission of the world governing body of athletics banned Valentin Balakhnichev, the former head of the Russian athletics federation, and Alexei Melnikov, the country's former head distance coach. Papa Massata Diack, a former marketing consultant to the IAAF, was also banned.

Papa Massata Diack, then an IAAF marketing consultant, is subject to an international arrest warrant. He is believed to be in his native Senegal and is wanted for questioning by France authorities in a corruption case associated with Russian doping and blackmail that also implicates his father. Lamine Diack is suspected by French authorities of taking more than 1 million euros ($1.18 million) to blackmail athletes and cover up positive tests.

All three denied any wrongdoing and subsequently appealed to the CAS. Balakhnichev, the former ARAF boss was furious with the decision, and remarked he had not expected the appeal to be successful. Balakhnichev, the former ARAF boss was furious with the decision, and remarked he had not expected the appeal to be successful. The former ARAF chief said he did not expected any other decision and also commented that everything that is currently taking place in the sports legal system is complete rubbish. Balakhnichev went on to comment that it is an unfair, absolutely unlawful decision.

In announcing its verdict, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said the IAAF Ethics Commission decision is confirmed and Valentin Balakhnichev, Alexei Melnikov and Papa Massata Diack remain banned for life from any involvement in the sport of athletics. It was also remarked by the CAS that it was concluded by the panel that the charges established against Messers Balakhnichev, Melnikov, and Diack were established beyond reasonable doubt and the sanctions imposed should be upheld. The full reasoned verdict by CAS is expected to be published at a later date.

The Russian doping scandal led to dozens of Russian athletes being barred from the Rio 2016 Games.

The sanctions related primarily to the case of Liliya Shobukhova, the Russian former London marathon winner, who paid $600,000 to have positive dope tests covered up. Liliya Shobukhova, a former winner of the Boston, Chicago, and London Marathons, later turned whistleblower. The case of IAAF followed a report by ARD, the German broadcaster, alleging that Shobukhova paid 450,000 euros ($530,000) to Russian officials who threatened her with a ban for doping before the 2012 London Olympics. The husband of Shobukhova reportedly received a 300,000 euro ($355,000) refund payment from an account in Singapore linked to Papa Massata Diack after the athlete was eventually banned for two years in 2014, according to an IAAF investigation. The IAAF announced after the investigation that they acted dishonestly and corruptly and did unprecedented damage to the sport of track and field which, by their actions, they have brought into serious disrepute.

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Albert Wolfgang
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