Athletics: Life bans for Balakhnichev, Diack's son and Russian coach Melnikov

Valentin Balakhnichev takes part in a ceremony to announce a host city of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in 2013.
Valentin Balakhnichev takes part in a ceremony to announce a host city of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in 2013.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - The IAAF ethics commission on Thursday banned for life former world body treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev and a son of former president Lamine Diack over bribes taken to cover up doping failures by Russian athletes.

The commission also ordered a life ban against former Russian coach Alexei Melnikov and a five year suspension for former world body anti-doping doctor Gabriel Dolle.

"Any lesser sanction would not meet the gravity of their offences," the commission said in announcing the bans.

Papa Massata Diack, Balakhnichev and Melnikov also face fines of between US$15,000-US$25,000.

Papa Massata Diack and his father Lamine Diack, who stepped down as IAAF president in August, and Balakhnichev are all under investigation by French police over hundreds of thousands of dollars paid to cover up doping offences.

Lamine Diack is alleged to have received €1 million alone.

His son acted as a marketing consultant to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) until forced to stand down over the scandals.

The IAAF ethics commission looked into charges that Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, who won the 2012 London Olympics women's marathon, paid more than US$600,000 to have her doping violations covered up.

According to the testimony, some €300,000 was paid back to Shobukhova through a Singapore company in 2014 in a bid to obtain her silence over the bribes.

But Shobukhova turned whistleblower for the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) which has been investigating widespread doping in Russian sport.

Balakhnichev later slammed the life ban handed down by the IAAF, saying that the move appeared aimed at "discrediting Russian sport".

"This looks like a clearly politicised decision. Certain forces are trying to increase the pressure on Russian sport by taking such a radical decision," he told Russia's state-run TASS news agency, adding that he was planning to challenge the measure.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told the R-Sport agency that the "decision was expected and there is no sense in appealing".

Russia has been suspended by the IAAF and now faces a race against time to be readmitted in time for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.

Shobukhova is now serving a reduced ban for her doping failures. Wada is to release a new report on doping in athletics on Jan 14 which is expected to implicate new countries.