LONDON • The doping and bribery scandal engulfing the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) took on monstrous proportions yesterday when it came to light that Dr Gabriel Dolle has been placed under a criminal probe. He is the former director of its medical and anti-doping department.
He is suspected of taking about €200,000 (S$306,000) in bribes in an alleged cover-up of positive Russian doping tests.
The French office for financial prosecutions said Dolle joins the former IAAF president Lamine Diack and his legal adviser, Habib Cisse, under formal investigation.
Diack is being investigated on preliminary charges of corruption and aggravated money laundering while Dolle and Cisse face only the corruption charge.
Dolle was released from police custody on €100,000 bail after Judge Renaud van Ruymbeke, one of three investigating magistrates in the case, formally placed him under investigation.
The latest developments follow a raid on the Monaco offices of track and field's governing body by police on Tuesday.
Diack could not be reached for comment but an official said he is suspected of pocketing "about €1 million" to cover up several positive doping tests.
The money is thought to have come from the Russian athletics federation, which yesterday suspended five more athletes - including hammer thrower Maria Bespalova, 29, who competed at the 2012 London Olympics - for doping abuse.
Diack was released on €500,000 bail, ordered to turn in his passport and not to leave France. Cisse is also barred from leaving the country.
According to the Guardian, the police investigation began in June after the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) took the highly unusual step of going "mob-handed" - in the words of one source - into the offices of the IAAF and leaving with a number of documents.
These suggested evidence of criminal activity and led Wada to alert Interpol, which has been building a case since.
The investigation into Diack is embarrassing for IAAF president Sebastian Coe - given that it was just over two months ago that he praised Diack.
Coe had noted that although Diack "ceases to be our president... he will always be our spiritual president and he will certainly be my spiritual president".
Much of the police's focus into the IAAF is believed to centre on the case of Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova.
Last year, she alleged two members of the Russian athletics federation had extorted US$450,000 (S$632,900) from her in return for covering up a positive test.
L'Equipe, which published the story last December, suggested the money was used to pay off IAAF officials to suppress Russian doping.
Shobukhova was stripped of her London and Chicago marathon titles and banned for life for irregularities in her blood passport but was surprisingly allowed to return to competition in August.
Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Wednesday that the old guard at his country's athletics federation had been replaced but appeared to indicate that "criminal cases" were continuing.
"We've already said that our federation had problems," he said.
"The old management isn't working there any more. Understand that there are a lot of criminal cases going on in the world right now and those are unclear cases."
Dick Pound, the former president of Wada who has been investigating allegations of systematic doping and cover-ups in Russia since December, will announce his findings in Geneva on Monday.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS