Di­acks’ trial ex­poses se­crets of track golden era

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

‘And in the back­ground, there are the geopo­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests of na­tions which, in the end, lead to the con­clu­sion that the dop­ing of ath­letes and help­ing ath­letes dope to win medals is no worse than em­ploy­ing se­cret ser­vices to in­ter­vene here and there.’

AS USAIN Bolt set the world ablaze, mak­ing athletics the hottest ticket at the Olympic Games, the sport was also be­ing eaten from within.

That grim pic­ture has emerged from a cor­rup­tion trial in Paris that has shown how the thrilling era for track fans was poi­soned be­hind the scenes by a fa­ther-son part­ner­ship at the top of World Athletics, then known as the IAAF, the in­ter­na­tional gov­ern­ing body that or­gan­ises Olympic races and world cham­pi­onships.

Nine months be­fore Bolt set the first of his sprint world records, then-IAAF Pres­i­dent Lamine Di­ack signed an agree­ment in Septem­ber 2007 to pay his own son US$900 per day – later in­creased to US$1,200 – for con­sul­tancy work. Armed with his fa­ther’s name and in­flu­ence as a ti­tan of Olympic sports, Papa Mas­sata Di­ack set to work ne­go­ti­at­ing lu­cra­tive spon­sor­ship deals for the IAAF.

In the process, prosecutor­s al­lege, the Di­acks got rich, si­phon­ing off rev­enue for them­selves and lin­ing bank ac­counts with hush money al­legedly ex­torted from ath­letes who coughed up six-fig­ure sums to avoid be­ing sanc­tioned for dop­ing.

The Di­acks con­test the cor­rup­tion, money laun­der­ing and breach of trust charges ex­am­ined in six days of hear­ings. The trial high­lighted gov­er­nance prob­lems that have plagued sports in their growth from what were once am­a­teur pur­suits into a global mega-in­dus­try short on ef­fec­tive over­sight.

ATH­LETES HURT

The Di­acks’ al­leged malfea­sance didn’t merely bite gi­ant chunks out of IAAF rev­enues and trash its rep­u­ta­tion as a leader in fight­ing dop­ing, caus­ing losses the gov­ern­ing body now val­ues at €41 mil­lion (US$46 mil­lion). The court heard that ath­letes also were hand­i­capped and hurt fi­nan­cially by hav­ing to com­pete against run­ners who should have been sus­pended for dop­ing but in­stead ben­e­fited from a crooked sys­tem dubbed “full pro­tec­tion,” pay­ing hush money to keep com­pet­ing.

Two French for­mer run­ners, Chris­telle Dau­nay and Hind De­hiba, are seek­ing dam­ages.

De­hiba’s at­tor­ney, Florent Hauchecorn­e, de­scribed the trial as a mile­stone in end­ing the seem­ing im­punity that long shielded sports ad­min­is­tra­tors from crim­i­nal pun­ish­ment.

“The prob­lem is that sport has be­come an in­dus­try,” he said. “And in the back­ground, there are the geopo­lit­i­cal in­ter­ests of na­tions which, in the end, lead to the con­clu­sion that the dop­ing of ath­letes and help­ing ath­letes dope to win medals is no worse than em­ploy­ing se­cret ser­vices to in­ter­vene here and there.”

DI­ACK

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