IAAF trio handed life bans in doping scandal

The full scale of corruption involving senior IAAF officials has been laid bare after three of athletics’ leading figures were handed lifetime bans for blackmail and covering up positive drugs tests.

The trio were Papa Massata Diack, the son of the then IAAF president Lamine Diack and a marketing consultant for the organisation, former Russian athletics federation (ARAF) president and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev, and Alexei Melnikov, a senior ARAF coach.

Gabriel Dolle, who was the IAAF’s anti-doping director, has been given a five-year ban for his part in the doping scandal which has rocked world athletics.

The findings by the IAAF’s ethics commission make disturbing reading with the trio found to have blackmailed Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, London marathon winner in 2010, and made her pay a bribe for a positive drugs test to be covered up.

Lamine Diack, who was succeeded as president by Seb Coe in August, is himself under investigation by French police on suspicion of taking more than €1m to cover up positive tests. The report says Diack senior and his legal adviser Habib Cisse are also being investigated by the ethics commission.

The ethics commission’s findings state: “The head of a national federation, the senior coach of a major national team and a marketing consultant for the IAAF conspired together (and, it may yet be proven with others too) to conceal for more than three years anti-doping violations by an athlete at what appeared to be the highest pinnacle of her sport.

“All three compounded the vice of what they did by conspiring to extort what were in substance bribes from Liliya Shobukhova by acts of blackmail. 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.”

The commission’s report also refers to allegations from Russia’s deputy sports minister Yuri Nagorny that “at least” five other Russian athletes were also involved.

According to Nagorny, the report states, “a system was put in place at the IAAF level under which athletes with an abnormal blood passport profile would be allowed to keep competing at high level in exchange of cash payments made to the IAAF”. He also alleged that Turkey and Morocco may have been involved in similar schemes.

The IAAF said it was “angered” that its former officials had blackmailed Shobukhova and that they were no longer involved with the organisation.

“These four individuals who have been found guilty and sanctioned are no longer associated with the IAAF in any capacity,” a statement said.


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