Paris - Lamine Diack, the former head of
world athletics, has been placed under formal investigation in France on
suspicion of corruption and money laundering following a complaint from the
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The inquiry, confirmed by the French
financial prosecutor's office on Wednesday, comes at a time when the image of
world sport's governing bodies is under serious scrutiny. There is a
large-scale corruption investigation at soccer's FIFA while athletics is
fighting a desperate public relations rearguard battle in the face of continual
According to French news channel iTELE, the
investigation is focused on suspicions that payments were made in return for
not revealing widespread doping of Russian athletes.
The prosecutor's office did not confirm
that but said its investigation started when the World Anti-Doping Agency
(WADA) alerted it to "acts of corruption and laundering involving members
of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)."
WADA said it would hold a press conference
on Monday to address certain findings of its own investigation and added in a
statement: "These (French) investigations are a result of information
passed on by WADA's Independent Commission (IC) to the relevant
The press conference will exclude
"matters now under police investigation, which are expected to be
available before the end of the year," WADA said in a later statement.
Commission chair Richard Pound will present
findings of the commission's report surrounding allegations raised during
German broadcaster ARD's December 2014 documentary on doping in Russia.
WADA launched the commission last December
"to investigate the validity of allegations of doping practices; corrupt
practices around sample collection and results management; and, other
ineffective administration of anti-doping processes that implicate Russia, the
IAAF, athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors and other members of athletes'
entourages; as well as, the accredited laboratory based in Moscow and the
Russian Anti-Doping Agency," the WADA statement said.
Diack, from Senegal and an ex-long jumper
who was born in 1933, headed the IAAF for the best part of a decade from 1999.
He was held for questioning on Sunday together with his legal adviser Habib
Cisse, who was also placed under formal inquiry on Tuesday.
Under French law, magistrates place a
person under formal investigation when they believe there are indications of
wrongdoing, but that does not always lead to a trial.
The investigation "concerns money
movements and goes beyond doping", a source in the French judiciary said.
The Monaco-based IAAF confirmed a police
swoop took place at its headquarters on Tuesday "to carry out interviews
and access documentation". It said it was fully cooperating with the
The International Olympic Committee's (IOC)
chief ethics and compliance officer Paquerette Zappelli said: "In light of
the criminal investigation against Mr Lamine Diack, who is an IOC honorary
member, I have decided to refer this case to the IOC's Ethics Commission."
Diack's son, Papa Massata Diack, stepped
down from his role as an IAAF marketing consultant last year during an
investigation into allegations of doping in Russia.
The head of Russia's Athletics Federation
(VFLA), Valentin Balakhnichev, has also resigned from his role as IAAF treasurer.
Dr Gabriel Dolle, the director of the IAAF medical and anti-doping department,
also left the federation.
Nikita Kamaev of Russia's anti-doping
agency RUSADA said in an interview with the Russian R-Sport news agency that
his organisation was ready to help French investigators if contacted and
Russian sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the TASS agency that his country's
athletics federation had cleaned up its act.
"We have already said that there were
problems with our federation, but the old management are no longer working
there," he said. "You have to understand that now there are a lot of
criminal cases around the world, and it is not an easy situation to be
A doctor in charge of anti-doping matters
at the IAAF was also held for questioning in addition to Diack and Cisse.
An IOC spokesperson said: "The
International Olympic Committee is standing for clean sports and good
governance. It is therefore following these on-going inquiries very closely and
awaits the full facts coming to light."
The IAAF's new British president, Sebastian
Coe, was at IAAF headquarters at the time of the police raid and
"volunteered himself to answer any questions", a source familiar with
the investigation told Reuters.
"He answered any questions they
wanted," the source said. "But they did not come here to question Seb
Coe, a two-time Olympic 1 500-metres
champion elected IAAF president in August, was not immediately available for
Elected on a strong anti-doping platform,
Coe said this week in India: "It's not uniquely a track and field problem.
Every sport in the world has global issues. We have them but we also resolve