MONACO • French police have charged former world athletics president Lamine Diack with corruption over suspicions that he took bribes to cover up doping cases.
They raided the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) headquarters in Monaco yesterday before charging the 82-year-old, who stood down in August when Britain's Sebastian Coe was elected to head the scandal-tainted federation.
Coe asked to be questioned by investigators over the case during the raid, IAAF spokesman Chris Turner said.
The sensational charges were laid ahead of the release this month of a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) commission into allegations of widespread substance abuse in Russia, Kenya and among world champions.
Diack and his legal adviser, Habib Cisse, were charged with corruption, money laundering and conspiracy, French prosecutors said in a statement. Both were released on bail.
A former IAAF anti-doping doctor, Gabriel Dolle, was detained for questioning, they added.
"The IAAF is fully cooperating with all investigations as it has been from the beginning of the process," the IAAF said in a statement, adding that "police visited the IAAF HQ offices to carry out interviews and to access documentation".
A source close to the investigation said that the case was focusing on two or three doping tests by Russian athletes. But the inquiry could be widened to other cases involving other nationalities.
Diack, a former long jumper, was the IAAF president from 1999 until this year, a period when international athletics was hit with repeated doping scandals.
His son, Pape Massata Diack, was forced to resign last December as an IAAF marketing executive over accusations that he organised doping cover-ups for Russian athletes.
Valentin Balakhnishev, president of the Russian athletics federation, also stood down as IAAF treasurer.
Wada will this month release a report on allegations of widespread use of banned substances in Russia and other countries.
About 50 Russian athletes are currently banned by the IAAF, the highest number of any country, and Coe addressed Russian coaches during his two-day visit to Russia this week to meet Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and Olympic leaders.
"I expressed my uncompromising position on the issue of doping in athletics and the importance for the sport to build trust and defend clean athletes at all times," Coe said. But he added: "I was able to meet and interact directly with Russian athletes, coaches and officials, and I appreciated their openness, passion for our sport and noted a real appetite for change."
Russian sports leaders have denied that the country has higher levels of doping than other nations.