A Paris court has sentenced former World Athletics chief Lamine Diack to four years in prison on charges of corruption, money laundering and abuse of confidence. The charges stemmed from a Russian doping scandal, and for accepting Russian money to finance the 2012 election campaign of a Senegalese president.
The judgment has 87-year-old Senegalese Lamine Diack, ex-World Athletics, or IAAF chief, serving two years in jail, with an additional two-year suspended sentence. The court also fined him nearly $600,000, the maximum under French law.
Diack’s lawyers say they will appeal what they describe as a profoundly unfair verdict. Either way, Diack appears unlikely to go to jail. The presiding judge predicted a conditional release, given his age.
Diack’s Dakar-based son, Papa Massata Diack, got a tougher sentence in absentia — five years in prison, along with a nearly $1.2 million fine. The younger Diack is accused of overseeing a vast network of corruption as a former IAAF marketing adviser.
Papa Massata Diack refused to attend the Paris trial. Speaking to reporters in Dakar earlier this week, he insisted he was innocent. In addition, an investigation against him is underway in Senegal.
During the Paris trial, the senior Diack also denied corruption. He admitted to slowing the handling of Russian doping allegations, but he said it was to snag lucrative Russian sponsorship deals that would help shore up the organization’s finances.
Furthermore, the senior Diack denied charges of taking Russian funds to finance the successful 2012 election campaign of Senegalese President Macky Sall.
Trial observers say Diack’s testimony was often confusing. One of Diack’s lawyers urged leniency, saying it was important he die in dignity in his native land. Prosecutors argued Diack’s behavior deeply tarnished the IAAF.
A once-powerful figure in the sports world, Diack headed the IAAF for 16 years, before stepping down in 2015. Olympic gold medalist Sebastian Coe took over as head of the organization, which has been renamed World Athletics.