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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Senegal won’t extradite national says PM in IAAF corruption probe

Senegal said Friday it would not agree to extradite its own nationals, as Paris seeks the son of Lamine Diack, former president of the IAAF world athletics body now facing corruption and money laundering charges in France.

Interpol last month issued an international alert for the son, Papa Massata Diack, a former marketing consultant for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), after France issued an arrest warrant.

Diack junior stands accused of blackmailing athletes who failed drug tests

It’s all part of world athletics’ growing doping and corruption scandal.

The 82-year-old Lamine Diack is a former mayor of the Senegalese capital, Dakar, and national assembly member who became the first non-European elected as head of world athletics in 1999.

He faces criminal charges in France over allegations that he took more than one million euros ($1.1 million) in bribes from Russian athletes and officials to cover up failed drug tests.

Papa Massata Diack is one of his 15 children and has already been banned for life by the IAAF following the corruption charges.

The world athletics body’s ethics commission on January 7 found that Diack junior, former Russia athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichev and former Russian walking coach Alexei Melnikov “conspired to extort what were in substance bribes by acts of blackmail.”

“We will never extradite a Senegalese national,” Senegal’s Prime Minister Mohammed Dionne told parliament in comments run by the national APS press agency on Friday.

– ‘I’m not French’ –

Last month Papa Massata Diack said he was prepared to face justice, but in Senegal.

“I am a Senegalese citizen, not a French citizen,” he said then in a radio interview.

He and his father, who stood down as world athletics president in August before he was charged with corruption by French judges, may have made millions from bribes and other shady deals linked to Diack senior’s 15-year tenure as IAAF head.

French investigators have charged the elderly Diack with corruption, money laundering and conspiracy.

Lamine Diack, who is in France where he has been released on bail, has confirmed that Russia, via Balakhnichev, gave him 1.5 million euros ($1.65 million).

He has, however, denied accusations in French newspaper Le Monde that this donation was to help finance Senegalese President Macky Sall’s election campaign in 2012.

The younger Diack quit his post as an IAAF consultant in December 2014 following accusations that he asked for $5 million to promote Doha’s bid to stage the 2017 world athletics championships. London won the contest but Doha will stage the 2019 championships.

He has also been named in the French criminal enquiry against his father.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report released last year claimed he played a key role in the rounding up of money from Russian athletes.

Russia was banned from international competitions by the IAAF in November after a WADA independent commission found evidence of “state-sponsored” doping in the country.

Current IAAF president Sebastian Coe on Friday urged “every country” to cooperate with the French police investigation into alleged athletics corruption.

Ever since the doping and corruption allegations surfaced, Coe has been fighting a rearguard battle to salvage his and the sport’s reputation.

The 59-year-old double Olympic champion served eight years as a vice-president under Lamine Diack.

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