Lamine Diack, the former head of global athletics who was convicted last year of running a clique that covered up Russian doping in exchange for €3.2m (£2.7m) worth of bribes, has died at the age of 88.
Diack, one of the most powerful figures in world sport for nearly two decades, was also named in a Brazilian court of being paid $2 million (£1.5m) in exchange for up to nine votes that helped Rio win the right to stage the 2016 Olympic Games.
The news of Diack’s passing was confirmed by his son, Papa Massata, who said that “He died at home around 2am of a natural death.”
Diack held the French/West African long jump record, helped to coach the Senegal national football team, and became mayor of Dakar, then a senior politician in his home country.
Diack, who led the International Association of Athletics Federations from 1999 to 2015, was also an influential International Olympic Committee member.
As IAAF president he devised a scheme dubbed “full protection”, in which 23 Russian athletes paid between €100,000 and €600,000 in exchange for having their doping bans hushed up so they could compete at the London 2012 Olympics and at the 2013 Moscow world championships.
In September 2020 Diack was sentenced to four years in prison for bribery and corruption, with two years suspended. In announcing her ruling, Judge Rose-Marie Hunault, said Diack had “undermined the values of athletics and the fight against doping” with his actions. “You violated the rules of the game,” she added.
Incredibly, the French court also found that Diack Sr had agreed the “full protection” agreement with the then Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko in exchange for funding to help his friend Macky Sall win the 2012 Senegalese presidential election.
Diack remained under house arrest in France but was later released on bail and allowed to return to Senegal after the French authorities were given a €500,000 (£515,000) bond by Cheikh Seck, the owner of Senegalese football club Jaraaf.
“He was a good man, a great leader,” said Seck after Diack’s death. “We wanted him to come back home. It was really important, we never imagined he could finish his life somewhere else.”
Diack’s son, Papa Massata, was also ruled to have been at the heart of the scandal alongside him but fled to Senegal and was tried in absentia. He was given a five-year jail sentence last year, which his lawyers said they would appeal. Other senior IAAF figures, including the head of doping Gabriel Dollé, were also convicted for their part in the scheme.
Diack Sr’s name was also pivotal in the trial of senior Brazilian figures who were convicted for their part in a bribery scheme that secured the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games for Rio.
The former Rio de Janeiro governor Sérgio Cabral, said Diack and Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the former president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee, had colluded to win the Games for Rio.
“Nuzman came to me and said: ‘Sérgio, I want to tell you that the IAAF president, Lamine Diack, is a person that is open to undue advantages. He can secure five or six votes. In exchange, he wants $1.5m (£1.13m)’,” Cabral said.
Cabral added in court testimony that he paid $2m to Lamine Diack, which was used to buy as many as nine votes to help Rio beat Madrid, Chicago, and Tokyo to the 2016 Games.
Cabral told judge Marcelo Bretas that Nuzman assured him the scheme would work because Diack had a history of such practices.
“I said: ‘Nuzman, what are our guarantees here? And he said: ‘Traditionally he sells four, five, six votes. There is a risk that we don’t get through to the second round [of voting].’”
Last week Nuzman was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison after being found guilty of corruption, criminal organization, money laundering and tax evasion.
Cabral, already serving a 200-year sentence for other corruption-related offences, was also convicted.