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Too rich to bribe: Diack junior tells court in Russian doping graft case

Friday February 14 2020
By AFP

PARIS

Papa Massata Diack, the son of former world athletics supremo Lamine Diack, has denied corruption linked to the Russian doping scandal, saying he is too rich to bribe.

Diack has been indicted by French prosecutors for allegedly accepting millions of dollars along with his father, Lamine Diack, in return for covering up positive Russian doping tests.

Diack junior is a former marketing consultant for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now renamed World Athletics, which was run by his father from 1999 to 2015.

He was due to go on trial in Paris from mid-January along with his father but has refused to cooperate with French authorities and remains in Senegal.

Despite two international arrest warrants issued by France, the Senegalese authorities have said they will not extradite Diack junior.

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In testimony to an investigating magistrate in Senegal in November, seen by AFP, Papa Massata Diack said he was too wealthy to need to take bribes and denied covering up positive Russian doping tests from 2011.

"In all the years I worked with the IAAF and Dentsu-AMS (the IAAF marketing rights holders), I earned around 10 millions dollars (nine million euros) from sponsoring contracts and TV rights," he testified.

"So I had no need to ask athletes to pay money for doping cases."

The testimony, given on November 7, was sent by Senegal authorities to Paris along with other documents related to the case, but arrived too late to permit the trial to go ahead on the original date.

The presiding magistrate in the trial said more time was needed to examine that testimony. The trial is now set to start in June.

In his testimony, Diack, 54, denied all allegations against him including taking unauthorised payments to the tune of millions of dollars for TV contracts.

Separately, father and son are also being investigated by French authorities in a related case concerning the allocation of major athletics events and two Olympic Games.

Diack senior, 86, acknowledged during the investigation over Russian doping that sanctions against Russian athletes had been put on hold to allow them to compete at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2013 world athletics championships in Moscow.

Russia has been suspended from international competition since 2015 after proof emerged of a vast state-backed doping conspiracy.

Diack senior said that in exchange for help covering up doping, Moscow paid more for TV and sponsorship rights and also paid out 1.5 million euros to the Senegalese opposition to help defeat then-Senegal president Abdoulaye Wade when he stood for re-election in 2012.

Diack junior, however, denied knowledge of the political donation.

The French justice system considers that it has jurisdiction in the cases because it suspects the son, Papa Massata Diack, of laundering money Paris.

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