A Paris court will deliver its verdict Wednesday in the corruption trial of Lamine Diack, a former president of the international track and field federation who oversaw the glory years of Usain Bolt and, according to prosecutors, took millions of dollars for himself, along with his son.
At Diack's trial in June, prosecutors requested a four-year jail term and a fine of 500,000 euros ($595,000). The 87-year-old former IAAF president was tried on corruption, money laundering and breach of trust charges.
The verdict will also cover others who faced charges at the six-day hearing, including his son, Papa Massata Diack. The former IAAF marketing consultant lives in Senegal and was tried in his absence, also on corruption, money laundering and breach of trust charges.
Ahead of the verdict, Papa Massata Diack this week called the charges “the biggest lie in the history of world sport.” He said he earned $10 million from his IAAF consultancy work but all legally. He said he skipped the trial because "to submit to French justice is to put myself at the disposal of my enemies.” Senegal refused to extradite him.
The trial in June accused Diack of turning track’s governing body into a hotbed of malfeasance. Diack led the federation from 1999-2015, a time that included the thrilling era of Bolt.
Prosecutors said the Diacks siphoned off revenue for themselves and lined bank accounts with hush-money allegedly extorted from athletes who coughed up six-figure sums to avoid being sanctioned for doping. The IAAF's reputation as a leader in fighting doping was trashed by the crooked system, dubbed “full protection,” of athletes paying to keep competing.
With the 2012 London Olympics looming, Diack feared that punishing a large group of athletes together for doping could hurt negotiations with a Russian sponsor, the court was told. Diack acknowledged he intervened to quietly slow down the sanctioning process, but denied knowledge of payoffs. Prosecutors said the Diacks squeezed athletes for 3.45 million euros ($4 million).
Lamine Diack's position and longevity made him an important figure in Olympic sports. He jetted around the world and rubbed shoulders with VIPs. His influence also opened doors for his son.
Papa Massata Diack had expensive tastes: Investigators found that he bought watches and other luxury goods worth 1.7 million euros ($2 million) from a store off the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Prosecutors have sought a five-year prison sentence for the younger Diack.