Papa Massata Diack, the son of the former IAAF President Lamine Diack, is one of three senior athletics figures banned from the sport for life by the IAAF Ethics Commission on Thursday.
Senegalese Papa Massata Diack, who is a former IAAF marketing consultant; the former Russia athletic federation head and IAAF treasurer, Valentin Balakhnichev; and Alexei Melnikov, the former head coach of Russia’s race-walking and long-distance running programmes were found guilty of multiple breaches of the IAAF Code of Ethics and anti-doping rules relating to the case of Russian athlete Liliya Shobukhova.
The independent IAAF ethics commission panel, chaired by Briton Michael Beloff QC, also banned former IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dollé for five years in a damning 170-page report which claimed that Diack, Balakhnichev and Melnikov conspired “to extort what were in substance bribes from Liliya Shobukhova by acts of blackmail” to cover up her doping violations.
“The head of a national federation, the senior coach of a major national team and a marketing consultant for the IAAF conspired together to conceal for more than three years anti-doping violations by an athlete at what appeared to be the highest pinnacle of her sport,” read the report.
“All three compounded the vice of what they did by conspiring to extort what were in substance bribes from Liliya Shobukhova by acts of blackmail.
“They acted dishonestly and corruptly and did unprecedented damage to the sport of track and field, which, by their actions, they have brought into serious disrepute.”
Papa Massata Diack and Valentin Balakhnichev could be fined up to $25,000 while Alexei Melnikov faces a fine of $15,000. The investigation commenced in April 2014 upon referral of a complaint to the IAAF Ethics Commission by a member of the IAAF staff – Sean Wallace-Jones.
The IAAF released a statement after stating the organisation is angered to see that individuals have in the panel’s finding “conspired to extort what were in substance bribes from the athlete by acts of blackmail.
“This is all the more so because these breaches are related to one doping case which, among others, was identified and pursued by the IAAF Anti-Doping Department,” read the statement.
“Ultimately, the Department was able to ensure that the athlete concerned received a lengthy ban, but the four individuals’ activities delayed that outcome. The IAAF has already introduced corrective measures to make sure this sort of interference can’t happen again.
“These four individuals who have been found guilty and sanctioned are no longer associated with the IAAF in any capacity.”
“The IAAF is reassured that the panel of the Ethics Board has seen no evidence implicating any other members of the IAAF Anti-Doping Department who continue their ground-breaking work on the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) programme with WADA,” the IAAF concluded.
“The life bans announced today could not send a stronger message that those who attempt to corrupt or subvert the sport of athletics will be brought to justice. We continue to work with the French authorities’ investigation and the WADA’s Independent Commission,” Coe added.