Corruption focus on $4.9m Qatar payment

Banned Diack in spotlight again after evidence emerges of bank transfers linked to 2017 bid

LONDON • A company founded by a former senior figure at the IAAF, the governing body of world athletics, reportedly received two payments totalling US$3.5 million (S$4.9 million) days before Qatar's failed bid to host the 2017 world championships and while it was also bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games, it has emerged.

Le Monde said it had receipts from 2011 showing that payments went from Oryx Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) - an arm of the Qatari government - to Pamodzi Sports Marketing, a company founded by Papa Massata Diack, a former marketing consultant at the IAAF and the son of the now disgraced former president, Lamine.

Diack, who was banned for life from track and field for corruption this year, denied "ever acting in such a manner" in December 2014 when the Guardian revealed e-mails which appeared to show he had asked for US$5 million in payments from QSI in 2011.

The Qatar Athletics Federation has also denied any wrongdoing by QSI, although French prosecutors are believed to be analysing bidding processes for all world championships awarded between 2009 and 2022 as part of their investigation into IAAF corruption.

However, Le Monde says it has evidence that a bank transfer for US$3 million was carried out on Oct 13, 2011 from QSI to Pamodzi - with another US$500,000 put through on Nov 7, four days before the vote to stage the 2017 World Athletics Championships went to London.

Three years later Doha was finally awarded the rights to host the 2019 championships after sending a letter to members of the IAAF Council, pledging £23.5 million (S$41.3 million) in sponsorship and television rights just minutes before the vote.

The IAAF has insisted the practice of offering last-minute incentives complied with its bidding rules.

Diack was unreachable for comment. The 50-year-old, who is in hiding in Senegal, is wanted by Interpol on charges of complicity in receiving bribes, aggravated money-laundering and conspiracy in an organised group to invest, conceal or convert the proceeds of active corruption.

It is a steep fall for a man who was once seen as an important - if shadowy - fixer in world sport after he was appointed a global marketing consultant in 2007 and allowed to unilaterally tour the world for opportunities in emerging countries including Brazil, Russia, India, China, Qatar, Africa and the Caribbean in 2007.

Diack was this year banned for life by the independent IAAF ethics committee over corruption and cover-up allegations linked to Russian doping.

Last month, it dropped an investigation into allegations that "brown envelopes" were handed over on the eve of the 2017 vote, saying it found no indication of any bribery nor any evidence to support claims that IAAF president Sebastian Coe had voiced such concerns.

Diack was also apparently involved in a scheme to deliver "parcels" to influential members of the International Olympic Committee, according to leaked e-mails seen by the Guardian.

Meanwhile, Lamine Diack, who was president of the IAAF between 1999 and 2015, will return to court in Paris tomorrow.

The 83-year-old, who is accused of accepting more than €1 million (S$1.5 million) in return for covering up positive drug tests, risks going to jail for not paying his bail.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 20, 2016, with the headline 'Corruption focus on $4.9m Qatar payment'. Print Edition | Subscribe