Athletics: Disgraced ex-IAAF chief's friends pay French bail

DAKAR (AFP) - Longstanding friends of former Senegalese world athletics boss Lamine Diack, who faces charges of corruption and taking bribes to cover up doping cases in Russia, have stumped up a bail payment of 500,000 euros (S$756,000), his family said Monday.

A statement seen by AFP in Dakar said a joint payment had been made by family members. Diack is accused of allowing corruption to flourish during his 1999 to 2015 stewardship of the International Association of Athletics (IAAF) until scandal ultimately blew track and field's governing body apart. He has also been charged with money laundering and conspiracy.

"A group of longstanding friends of president Lamine Diack ... have got together to support this worthy son of Senegal as he undergoes this present tough ordeal. They have jointly paid the sum demanded by the French financial public prosecutor as bail, that is, 500,000 euros," the statement said, without identifying those who had come to his aid.

The statement said only that the payees include "international athletes, diplomats, retired high-ranking civil servants" as well as religious figures and businessmen from across Africa.

"After an exhaustive 12-month investigation by French judges no sum has been found in Lamine Diack's assets, either in Dakar, Paris, and still less in Monaco," the statement by his family said, lambasting "harassment" of the former athletics' chief.

Payment of the bail will ensure he avoids being taken into custody. One of Diack's sons, Papa Massata Diack, who worked as a marketing consultant at the IAAF until 2014, is also embroiled in the same affair.

In a rare interview to private broadcaster RFM last December, Papa Massata Diack said he was ready to respond to the allegations but in Senegal as "I am a Senegalese citizen, not a French citizen."

In January, Senegal ruled out extraditing him to France. Senegalese media reports say Senegalese police interviewed Diack junior last February with some newspapers saying that questioning came independently of a French warrant issued against him.

Last month, a French court ordered the release from police custody of a former legal adviser to Lamine Diack who had been placed under investigation in November 2015 after his lawyers successfully appealed his incarceration, insisting he was not a flight risk.