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Senegalese Lamine Diack died at the age of 88 on the night of Thursday to Friday, in Dakar. President of the International Athletics Federation from 1999 to 2015, he ended up being overtaken by scandals.
The former boss of world athletics, the Senegalese Lamine Diack, died on the night of Thursday 2 to Friday 3 December at the age of 88, in Dakar where he had returned in May, after being detained in France for years for a corruption case.
The cacique of sport reigned for 16 years at the head of world athletics (from 1999 to 2015) before being overtaken by scandals and becoming the symbol of the businessism that has plagued the international federation (World athletics, ex-IAAF).
First non-European athletics president
The first non-European president of the body, a major politician in his country (mayor of Dakar from 1978 to 1980, parliamentarian from 1978 to 1993), saw his record and his reputation tarnished by the accumulation of accusations at the end of his career.
Considered to be one of the key players in a corruption system aimed at covering up doping cases in Russia, in September 2020 he was sentenced by French justice to four years in prison, two of which were closed, and 500,000 euros fine for corruption and breach of trust. He had appealed against this conviction and a date for a new trial remained to be determined.
He had also been indicted for passive corruption in the investigation into the attribution of the Olympic Games in Rio (2016), Tokyo (2020) and the 2017 World Athletics Championships.
Athlete, footballer, mayor, president …
A terrible fall for the former leader, who returned to Senegal in May, for the first time since his indictment in 2015, and liked to recall the time of his splendor that he had had “several lives”.
Long jumper in the jersey of the France team, then football player – his passion – and national technical director of the Senegal team after independence in 1960 (between 1964 and 1968), Lamine Diack then led pair prolific careers in politics and in national, then international sporting bodies.
He was thus president of the Senegalese National Olympic Committee, mayor of Dakar, parliamentarian and vice-president of the international athletics federation before taking the reins by acclamation in December 1999 on the death of the Italian Primo Nebiolo.
But it took the end of his four terms for suspicion of a deeply rooted culture of corruption to emerge, with family ramifications. His son Papa Massata, former marketing advisor to the IAAF, was also tried in Paris for corruption and organized money laundering in this case.
The Diack clan was accused of having delayed disciplinary sanctions against Russian athletes suspected of doping in exchange for renewals of sponsorship and television broadcasting contracts for the Worlds-2013 in Moscow and funds from the Russian power to finance the opposition to outgoing Abdoulaye Wade during the 2012 presidential election in Senegal, won by Macky Sall.
“It leaves a not very bright image for athletics”
Enough to spoil his record at the top of world athletics. During his farewell press conference at the Beijing Congress in August 2015, Lamine Diack was also carried away, mumbling explanations and justifications that were not.
None of his neighbors, including his successor Sebastian Coe, visibly embarrassed, had intervened in his defense.
“It leaves a not very shining image for athletics”, had judged with AFP Bernard Amsalem, former president of the French Federation (2001-2016) and former member of the Council of the International Federation (2011-2019) . “The operation was very opaque and I think he was overtaken by events. He should never have given so much responsibility to his son. Others would not have. did not control anything and that it all escaped him completely. ”
An ex-employee had declared to the police during the investigation: “I think that Lamine Diack took himself for Robin Hood, to take the money of the doped to save the Senegalese, but that only commits me”.
Despite the terrible ball of corruption, Diack could boast of having globalized the first Olympic sport. From an accounting standpoint, television and sponsorship revenues have thus risen in 15 years to more than one billion euros. A legacy swept away by business, which caused the loss of important sponsors to the international federation.