PARIS (AFP) – The prosecution in the French corruption trial of former global athletics supremo Lamine Diack on Wednesday (June 17) for him to serve four years in prison and be fined a maximum of €500,000 (S$784,000).
He is accused of delaying punishment for Russian athletes who failed doping tests in return for payment and in order to ensure that prospective sponsors were not discouraged.
The 87-year-old Senegalese, who led the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from 1999 to 2015, faces charges of “giving and receiving bribes”, “breach of trust” and “organised money laundering”.
The prosecutor, Francois-Xavier Dulin, told the court in Paris that although the prison sentence requested for Diack was long for a man “in the autumn years of his life”, he had “committed an enormous offence” which had “worldwide” repercussions.
“Lamine Diack has told us that he is a not a man who is interested in money. But he is awash with money,” the prosecutor said.
Diack has told the court he agreed to delay bans for 23 Russian athletes but denied he knew that officials from the body had directly or indirectly asked those athletes for hundreds of thousands of euros to hush up their cases.
He said he was acting to safeguard “the financial health of the IAAF” because the federation – since renamed World Athletics – was negotiating major sponsorship contracts with Russian bank VTB and a Russian broadcaster at the time.
The court has heard that several of the Russian athletes concerned went on to win medals at the 2012 London Olympics.
Diack’s son Papa Massata Diack, a former marketing consultant for the IAAF, is also on trial but he remains in Senegal where the authorities refuse to hand him over to French authorities.
The court has heard that World Athletics, which is now led by Britain’s Sebastian Coe, is claiming €41.2 million compensation from the Diacks. It says the doping scandal led major sponsors Adidas and Nestle to sever ties with the federation.
The defence will sum its case on the final day of the trial on Thursday and will likely demand a much lower sentence, but a verdict is not expected for weeks.
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