Life bans for three top athletics officials over alleged doping cover-up

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jan 07, 2022
  • Lamine Diack's son Papa Massata Diack is among three officials who have been banned for life.

The son of ex-world athletics chief Lamine Diack is one of three senior figures given life bans from the sport. Former IAAF consultant Papa Massata Diack and Russian officials Valentin Balakhnichev and Alexei Melnikov were last month charged with multiple breaches of anti-doping rules relating to Russian athlete Liliya Shobukhova.

Ex-IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle has been banned for five years.

IAAF president Lord Coe said the bans "could not send a stronger message".

Diack and Balakhnichev, a former Russian athletic federation president and IAAF treasurer, face fines of £17,000 while Russian coach Melnikov could be fined £10,000. The independent IAAF ethics commission panel's 167-page report claims Diack, Balakhnichev and Melnikov conspired to "blackmail" Shobukhova to cover up her doping violations by her paying them "bribes" of about £435,000.

Last month, Diack told the BBC he "totally rejects" the blackmail allegations, saying: "There was no extortion of funds from any athlete."

The panel said: "The head of a national federation, the senior coach of a major national team and a marketing consultant for the IAAF conspired together (and, it may yet be proven with others too) to conceal for more than three years anti-doping violations by an athlete at what appeared to be the highest pinnacle of her sport," the IAAF's ethics commission's findings state.

"They acted dishonestly and corruptly and did unprecedented damage to the sport of track and field which, by their actions, they have brought into serious disrepute." Shobukhova's 38-month ban from track and field was reduced by seven months after she turned whistleblower for the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

Russia have been banned from international athletics competition after a report by Wada's independent commission alleged the country was guilty of "state-sponsored doping".

The IAAF released a statement stating that the Federation was 'angered to see that individuals have in the panel’s finding “conspired to extort what were in substance bribes from the athlete by acts of blackmail.'

"The IAAF is angered to see that individuals have in the panel’s finding “conspired to extort what were in substance bribes from the athlete by acts of blackmail.This is all the more so because these breaches are related to one doping case which, among others, was identified and pursued by the IAAF Anti-Doping Department.

 "Ultimately, the Department was able to ensure that the athlete concerned received a lengthy ban, but the four individuals' activities delayed that outcome. The IAAF has already introduced corrective measures to make sure this sort of interference can’t happen again,"IAAF said in a statement.