Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Doping report: Corruption was 'embedded' in IAAF

Published:Friday | January 15, 2016 | 1:00 AM
From left: Legal Counsel Richard McLaren, Richard W. Pound, WADA founding president and former IOC vice-president, and Guenter Younger, head of departmen for Cybercrime with the Bavarian Landeskriminalamt, attend a press conference about WADA's Independent Commission Report in Munich, Germany, yesterday.

MUNICH (AP):

Track and field's governing body was corrupted from the inside by a "powerful rogue group" led by its president, and they conspired to extort athletes and allow doping Russians to continue competing, a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) probe reported yesterday.

Other IAAF leaders were at fault, too, the WADA panel's damning report said. They must have known of the nepotism that allowed Lamine Diack to turn the International Association of Athletics Federations into a personal fiefdom during his 16-year reign as president, it said.

"It is increasingly clear that far more IAAF staff knew about the problems than has currently been acknowledged," said the report, written by former WADA president Dick Pound and presented at a news conference in Munich.

key question

A key question raised by the report is whether alleged corruption under Diack went beyond extorting doped athletes and infected other areas of IAAF business. WADA's investigators called for a detailed follow-up probe of all world championships awarded by the ruling body for 2009-19, due to evidence they found of possible wrongdoing. That included an indication that Diack, a former IOC member, was prepared to sell his vote in the 2020 Olympic hosting contest won by Tokyo in exchange for sponsorship of IAAF events.

The report made further uncomfortable reading for Sebastian Coe, the British middle-distance running great who took over from Diack in August. Coe was in the audience as Pound sifted through the grim findings and asserted that the IAAF remains an organisation in denial.

"The corruption was embedded in the organisation. It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on its own," the report said.

Coe is not accused of corrupt wrongdoing. But, as an IAAF vice-president under Diack, he was part of its Council, its oversight body, that took a hammering from the investigators' report. The Council "could not have been unaware of the extent of doping" and the breaking of anti-doping rules and "could not have been unaware of the level of nepotism" under Diack, it said.

With a "close inner circle" including two of his sons, Papa Massata and Khalil, and his personal legal counsel, Habib Cisse, Diack led an "informal illegitimate" government that took over the handling of Russian doping cases, opening the door for athletes to then be blackmailed, the report said.

Cisse, the lawyer, called the investigation "unfair". Speaking to The Associated Press, he said the commission never questioned him or allowed him to contest any of its findings before publication.

Lamine Diack was taken into custody by French authorities in November on corruption and money-laundering charges.

A contrite Coe later thanked Pound for the hard-hitting findings.

"The whole sorry saga is about cover-up," Coe said. The WADA probe's findings, he added, will help the IAAF with the "very complex, deeply painful process" of recovering.