Ex-athletics chief jailed for corruption

Lamine Diack (C) has been jailed for two years by a French court for corruption.
Lamine Diack (C) has been jailed for two years by a French court for corruption.

Lamine Diack, the former head of world athletics, has been sentenced to four years in prison, two of them suspended, by a French court for his part in a corruption scandal.

A statement from the French ministry of justice confirmed the sentence for the 87-year-old from Senegal, who had been charged with directly or indirectly soliciting $A5.6 million in bribes from athletes, many of them Russian, to cover up positive drug tests.

It was reported that presiding judge Rose-Marie Hunault told Diack that due to his age it was not expected he would serve a custodial sentence, but instead be granted conditional release.

In addition to the prison sentence, Diack was fined $A800,000.

He served as the head of athletics' global federation, known at the time as the IAAF, between 1999 and 2015.

Diack senior had been under house arrest in France since November 2015.

Allegations of a conspiracy to cover up positive drugs tests in Russia first came to light when Yuliya Stepanova and her husband spoke out in March 2013.

Eleven months later Andrei Baranov, the agent of Russian marathon runner Lilya Shobukhova, told the race director of world athletics' governing body, then known as the IAAF, she had been asked to pay $A750,000 over a two-year period to stay off a doping watch list in order to compete at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Diack stood down as IAAF president in August 2015, with Sebastian Coe succeeding him in the top job.

In January 2016 the World Anti-Doping Agency found Diack "organised and enabled" the Russian doping scandal within the IAAF.

The IAAF issued life bans from the sport to his son Papa Massata Diack, the former president of the Russian athletics federation Valentin Balakhnichev and the former head of its long-distance running programme Alexei Melnikov.

World Athletics - the IAAF's current guise - welcomed the ruling, which was accompanied by sizeable damages.

A statement said: "This has been a long five years and we would like to thank the French Prosecutors and the Paris Criminal Court for their time, detailed work and deliberations in to this case."

WADA described the court's decision as "a victory for clean sport".

President Witold Banka said: "This is a victory for athletes and for clean sport. It shows that no one is above the law.

"It is particularly encouraging when sports-related corruption is being taken seriously by criminal justice systems around the world, and the French authorities are to be congratulated for their diligence and commitment."

Australian Associated Press