IAAF bans four senior officials over alleged doping cover-ups

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The IAAF’s ethics commission has announced bans for four senior officials alleged to have covered up doping offences, including the son of former president Lamine Diack.

After a three-day hearing took place in London last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations has been deliberating on what sanctions to impose against Papa Massata Diack, who worked as a consultant for the organisation, former IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dollé, former Russian federation president and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev and the Russian federation’s former chief coach for long-distance athletes Alexei Melnikov.

A statement from world athletics’ governing body on Thursday confirmed that Balakhnichev, Melnikov and Diack have been banned from the sport for life, while Dollé has received a five-year ban.

“The panel considers in the light of its findings that VB (Balakhnichev), AM (Melnikov) and PMD (Massata Diack) should be banned for life from any further involvement in any way in the sport of track and field; any lesser sanction would not meet the gravity of their offences,” read the statement, which also confirmed Balakhnichev and Diack face fines of $25,000 (£17,000) and Melnikov $15,000.

“In GD (Dollé)’s case such ban is also appropriate but in his case for 5 years only; his sins were those of omission, not commission. The Panel hereby imposes these bans with effect from the date of this decision.”

The ethics hearings take place against a background of investigations by the French police into allegations that senior IAAF officials took bribes to cover up drugs tests. Lamine Diack is under investigation suspected of receiving more than €1m, while his son, Dollé and Balakhnichev are also being investigated. The Guardian revealed that Dollé left his post with the IAAF in December 2014 after being interviewed by the ethics committee.

The charges involve Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, the former London marathon winner who turned whistleblower for the world anti-doping agency earlier this year, and money she paid to have her doping violations covered up.

According to testimony she has given, Shobukhova paid more than $600,000 for violations to be covered up so that she was not suspended.

The panel was made up of ethics commission chairman Michael Beloff QC, Thomas H Murray, an American who is President Emeritus of the renowned research institution the Hastings Centre, and Japan’s Akira Kawamura, a former president of the International Bar Association.

The IAAF has banned Russia from international competition after a report by the world anti-doping agency’s independent commission, headed by Dick Pound, who is due to release the second part of his findings on 14 January.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Guardian sport, for theguardian.com on Thursday 7th January 2016 12.05 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010