Diack's former adviser in custody

French authorities investigating Cisse over corruption linked to Russia's doping scandal

PARIS • Habib Cisse, the former legal adviser to disgraced former world athletics head Lamine Diack, has been placed in custody as part of the French investigation into corruption linked to state-sponsored doping of Russian athletes, sources said on Tuesday.

Cisse, 41, was put under investigation in November last year for corruption along with Diack and Gabriel Dolle, former anti-doping doctor for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Cisse's lawyers, Louis-Marie de Roux and Cedric Labrousse, told AFP the decision was "unbelievable and unjustified" and immediately appealed it.

Eliane Houlette, head of France's financial prosecution department, said in January that all three men had admitted covering up positive Russian drug tests.

They "admitted that after 2011 the treatment of athlete biological passports for 23 Russian athletes were carried out in an abnormal way - without the Russian athletics federation or the international federation carrying out sanctions or suspensions."

They gave the excuse that they did not want "a big scandal" before the 2012 London Olympics that could influence talks with a sponsor and over television rights.

Diack headed the IAAF from 1999 to last year, but found himself at the centre of a maelstrom that blew track and field's governing body apart.

French police charged Diack with corruption on suspicion the 83-year-old Senegalese accepted bribes to cover up doping cases in Russia. He was also charged with money laundering and conspiracy.

Cisse, a lawyer by profession, is thought to have played a key role in the scandal.

He was named at the end of 2011 as the IAAF's point man for tracking Russian athletes' biological passports, and drew up a 23-strong list of suspected doping cheat in Russia.

Cisse then travelled several times to Moscow and investigators suspect him of having been sent by Diack to find a financial arrangement with the Russian athletics federation.

"I've never been aware of a corruption pact," Cisse said on Nov 3 last year in the office of the investigating judges, according to one source.

Following bombshell revelations of state-sponsored doping in Russia, the country was hit hard for the Rio Olympics.

All 68 track and field athletes bar one - long jumper Darya Klishina, who is based in the United States - were barred from competing, while the entire Russian team were banned for the Paralympic Games.

Current IAAF president Sebastian Coe has insisted there is no deadline for Russia's return to international competition, with many athletes wondering whether the country will be at the world championships in London next year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 20, 2016, with the headline 'Diack's former adviser in custody'. Print Edition | Subscribe