Life bans for three former IAAF officials, Russian coach

Monaco, Jan 7 (IANS) The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Thursday slapped three of its officials and a Russian coach with life bans as they “conspired to extort what were in substance bribes from the athlete by acts of blackmail”.

IAAF’s former marketing consultant and son of its former president Lamine Diack, Papa Massata Diack, former All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) president Valentin Balakhnichev, former ARAF chief coach for long distance walkers and runners, Alexei Melnikov, and former IAAF’s Anti-Doping Department director Gabriel Dolle have been banned for life for various breaches of the IAAF Code of Ethics.

Papa Diack, Balakhnichev and Melnikov were last month charged with multiple breaches of anti-doping rules relating to Russian athlete Liliya Shobukhova.

This investigation commenced in April 2014 upon referral of a complaint to the Ethics Board by a member of the IAAF staff, according to an IAAF statement.

“These four individuals who have been found guilty and sanctioned are no longer associated with the IAAF in any capacity. The IAAF is reassured that the panel of the Ethics Board has seen no evidence implicating any other members of the IAAF Anti-Doping Department who continue their ground-breaking work on the Athlete Biological Passport programme with WADA,” IAAF said in a statement.

“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,” the statement published in its official website added.

“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 president Sebastian Coe commented that these bans “could not send a stronger message”.

“I’d like to thank the independent IAAF Ethics Board for their diligent and detailed investigation. The life bans announced today could not send a stronger message that those who attempt to corrupt or subvert the sport of athletics will be brought to justice,” Coe said.

“We continue to work with the French authorities’ investigation and the WADA’s Independent Commission,” the Englishman, two-time Olympic champion in 1,500 metres, added.

Russia has been banned from international athletics competition after a report by WADA’s independent commission alleged the country was guilty of “state-sponsored doping”.

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