Athletics: 'IAAF leaders know all about cover-ups'

IAAF president Sebastian Coe checking documents ahead of a news conference by former Wada president, Dick Pound, who heads the commission into corruption and doping in athletics
IAAF president Sebastian Coe checking documents ahead of a news conference by former Wada president, Dick Pound, who heads the commission into corruption and doping in athletics. PHOTO: REUTERS

New report claims IAAF must have been aware of doping hush-up by Russia

MUNICH • Athletics sank further into turmoil yesterday, as a new report into the doping scandal concluded that corruption was "embedded in the organisation" and that its leadership - including current president Sebastian Coe - must have been aware of the extent of the rule-breaking that has brought the sport to its knees.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report, which was leaked before a press conference in Munich yesterday, also claims that Lamine Diack, Coe's predecessor as International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president, said he would have to cut a deal with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to ensure Russian athletes accused of doping did not compete at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.

Dick Pound, the report's author, strongly criticised the IAAF council, of which Coe was a part even before his election to the top job in August, saying that those running athletics had to have known that doping regulations were not being enforced.

Pound had promised a "wow" factor in the second part of his investigation into the scandal and today's report, obtained early by the Associated Press from an unidentified person, carries several explosive revelations.

Pound said that the IAAF must restructure to ensure corruption cannot go unchecked, adding that the corruption "cannot be blamed on a small number of miscreants".

"The corruption was embedded in the organisation," the report says. "It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own."

In addition to the deal-making friendship forged between Putin and Diack, the report details a sudden increase from US$6 million (S$8.63 million) to US$25 million for Russian rights to televise the 2013 World Championships provided by a Russian bank.

GETTING TO THE ROOT

The corruption was embedded in the organisation. It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own.

DICK POUND, saying that the IAAF must restructure to ensure corruption cannot go unchecked.

It also tells of a lawyer who was hand-picked by Diack to handle Russian cases even though he had little experience with anti-doping measures.

Pound details meetings between Diack and IAAF lawyer Huw Roberts, who delivered details of the nine Russian doping cases directly to Diack and asked how he planned to resolve them.

With no resolution coming, Diack explained to Roberts "he was in a difficult position that could only be resolved by President Putin of Russia with whom he had struck up a friendship", the report said.

Eventually, the report says, none of the nine athletes competed in Moscow, but their cases were not further pursued by the IAAF. Those delays led to Roberts' resignation in January 2014. By then, according to the report's details, Roberts had virtually no control over cases involving Russians. In November 2011, Diack turned over responsibility for Russian cases involving biological passport blood tests to his personal lawyer, Habib Cisse.

Cisse is under investigation in France for corruption. Diack's son, Papa Massata Diack, has been banned from athletics for life. Papa Massata and another of Diack's sons, Khalil, both had IAAF jobs outside the official framework of the federation that set them up to execute all the fraud, the report said.

The report details a 2012 meeting at a Moscow hotel involving a Russian television advisor, Papa Massata Diack, Cisse and Valentin Balakhnichev, the Russian athletics federation head.

The meeting was set to resolve a "problem" with the US$6 million price tag for the Russian television rights to the following year's world championships.

After the meeting, Papa Massata Diack had an arrangement with a leading Russian bank which is worth US$25 million.

Pound called for the IAAF to undertake forensic examination of how the rights were awarded to see if there were any improprieties.

Pound's previous report in November detailed corruption in Russia. Since then, the country's track team has been suspended, along with its anti-doping agency and the Moscow anti-doping lab.

Together the report and other recent revelations indicate that many officials inside the IAAF, which announced the ban of Russian athletes, were aware of the growing Russian doping problem for years before taking action, and some may have been actively covering up Russian wrongdoing.

It continues the turbulent start to his presidency for Coe, who has caved in to pressure to stand down from his position as an ambassador for Nike over a perceived conflict of interest and has denied having knowledge of a doping cover-up at the IAAF while he was vice-president.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 15, 2016, with the headline ''IAAF leaders know all about cover-ups''. Print Edition | Subscribe