Reports: IAAF extorted money from more athletes in doping cover-up

IAAFAt least six Russian athletes may have paid bribes to the ruling athletics body IAAF to cover up suspicious doping tests and allow them to compete at the 2012 Olympics, German and French news reports said Friday, citing a French investigation.

French paper Le Monde and German broadcasters ARD said that athletes were blackmailed by the IAAF to pay between 300,000 and 700,000 euros ($317,000-$739,000) in order to continue competing.

The reports also suggested that up to 23 athletes may have had suspicious tests not sanctioned – a far bigger affair than originally believed when ARD in December 2014 opened the scandal by reporting that Russian runner Liliy Shubakhova had paid money to avoid sanctions.

The ARD published an e-mail from then Russian athletics chief and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev to IAAF officials from July 2014 in which he speaks of a “Total Protection Project” to cover up the suspicious tests.

The message said the IAAF, back in 2011, offered Russia a deal to avoid sanctions, naming the scheme “cynical and cruel blackmail.”

Balakhnichev appears to have been an intermediary in the scheme, according to Friday’s reports but he said they contained nothing new as he denied his involvement.

“I’m not familiar with the letter, in which I could admit collusion with the IAAF,” Balakhnichev told the Tass news agency.

Friday’s reports said the details come from a French corruption probe into former IAAF president Lamine Diack, his son Papa Mussata Diack and a lawyer.

The Russian athletics federation ARAF was suspended by the IAAF over the affair last year and its athletes – apart from US-based long jumper Darya Klishina – were barred from competing at the Rio Olympics in August.

Source: GNA

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