A new investigation by Germany’s ARD television and France’s Le Monde newspaper has revealed a former IAAF official took millions in bribes to cover-up doping results.
Papa Massata Diack, the wanted son of ousted international athletics president Lamine Diack, took millions of euros from Russian competitors in return for “total protection” from failed doping tests. It was reported that six athletes each paid between 300,000 and 700,000 euros ($318,000-$740,000) to top officials including Papa Diack who in hiding in his native Senegal and wanted by French authorities. Lamine Diack, his father, who was charged after standing down as President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in August 2015, is under house arrest in France.
At least six athletes from Russia had paid to have their suspicious doping test results covered up. The report said the list includes steeplechase runner Yuliya Zaripova, long-distance runner Liliya Shobukhova, walkers Valeriy Borchin, Olga Kaniskina, Vladimir Kanaikin, and Sergey Kirdyapkin.
ARD reported that the organized cover-up of suspected doping in the world of track and field has as such assumed a previously unimagined scale. It added once again athletes are primarily from Russia. ARD television and Le Monde reported that their information was based on files held by Paris financial crime prosecutors investigating corruption allegations against the father-son duo.
The media organizations also quoted letters sent by Valentin Balakhnichev, the then president of Russia’s athletics federation, who had threatened to go public with the doping deal if the world governing body of athletics fails to offer the immunity it had promised. The letter addressed to IAAF officials by Balakhnichev dated July 30, 2014 stated that let us remind you that the background of these six cases from the very beginning was very far from any legal and ethical frames. The letter further say that you decided to use multiple athlete biological passport violations by the Russian athletes as an excellent way for your own prosperity and when we faced 19 shocking ABP cases including Olympic and world champions, you offered us a deal in 2011. Balakhnichev had added we are too much diplomatic naming it as a deal when it was cynical and cruel blackmail.
Balakhnichev stepped down from his post as Russian athletics chief few days after ARD aired its first documentary in December 2014 alleging systematic doping in Russian athletics.
An IAAF spokesperson said it is clear we all need to get to the bottom of what has happened which is what the French criminal investigation is doing and we continue to assist them as required.
Recently, a life ban was imposed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against Doctor Sergei Portugalov, the alleged mastermind of doping in Russian track and field. Russia's athletics federation announced the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne has ruled on a life ban for Sergei Portugalov after finding him guilty of violating several articles of IAAF Anti-Doping Regulations, including the possession and dissemination of prohibited substances.
In a 2015 report, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recommended that Portugalov should be barred from taking part in any state sports program after he was found to have supplied athletes with banned performance enhancing drugs. The WADA report also had disclosed that Portugalov administered the doping programs and "even injected athletes himself" and also commented that Portugalov, who had served as the head of the Russian athletics federation's medical commission, was very active in the conspiracy to cover up athletes' positive tests in exchange for a percentage of their winnings.
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