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Lamine Diack – Corruption Process: Gold Medal for Tax Investigators

Lamine Diack had reason to celebrate on Sunday. The former president of the World Athletics Association had his birthday, he was 87 years old. It was probably not a lavish party under house arrest in Paris, but his son Papa Massata is guaranteed not to have traveled to congratulate the father. An application for extradition from the French authorities is currently being filed against Diack junior, which is why he is currently staying in his home country Senegal wherever possible and staying as far away from Europe as possible.

So father Lamine has to appear in court today without family support, the trial against Diack senior and junior, postponed several times, should finally start on Monday. It's about corruption, money laundering, blackmail, fraud. Lamine Diack, as the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" once put it nicely, "accused of everything," so to speak. It almost goes without saying that Diack rejects all allegations as baseless. 16 long years, from 1999 to 2015, the man from Senegal was at the top of the athletics world, so he had enough time to fill a register of sins to the brim: He is said to have covered up doping cases, he was even said to have taken money to drop doping samples under the table, and is said to have held his hand when awarding the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games to Rio and Tokyo, all in close cooperation with his son Papa Massata, whom he had implemented as a PR consultant in the association.

A world association as a family affair Diack led the world association like his private affair, like a family affair, and there were always enough officials around him who were knowledgeable and complicit. That let him go unmolested.

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Papa Massata Diack stays away from the process
SEYLLOU / AFP

It only got tight for him when the French financial prosecutor Parquet National Financier (PNF) started its investigation. The authorities placed house arrest on him in 2015, and it continues to this day. Now the process is coming, albeit late, very late. Diack's example is not an isolated case, on the contrary: it is a symbol of how negligent it was and is to trust the self-cleaning powers of sport. Whether in the causa diack, whether in the events surrounding the President of the Weightlifting Association, Tamás Aján, or in the entire Fifa complex – each needed a push from the outside in order not only to address the scandalous processes of the official cliques, but also the consequences to follow.

The authorities in the world football association have been known for years, journalists have written their fingers sore to describe the crooked business of Mohammad Bin Hammam and Jack Warner, the gangstering by Joseph Blatter, Franz Beckenbauer and others in the Make self-service store Fifa Executive Committee public. But it didn't bother the gentlemen over the years, and above all it didn't stop them from continuing: pro forma ethics commissions were set up to investigate the cases, institutions that mostly mocked their name, the results of which were usually already there firmly. If someone was actually convicted like Bin Hammam, it was because he was the victim of an internal power struggle, instrumentalized by the supposed struggle for a clean sport.

You felt safe, you felt safe, and the next reelection was imminent. The whole building only began to falter when the US tax authorities rigorously determined, not hesitated, to have senior officials arrested in raids. Suddenly, the unabashed give and take was over, and suddenly the men found themselves in court, but years went by, the Fifa trial in New York, the summer fairy tale negotiations in Bellinzona, Switzerland, have the dilemma of this late legal review made clear. Limitation periods apply, the accused are old, some of them are no longer process-capable, and sometimes a certificate helps.

In Paris, too, it is open whether this will really result in a judgment or whether health attestations will cause the process to burst. Diack is now an old man too. But at least: There is a legal review, and the French judiciary is well aware of the time pressure: the trial was initially scheduled until June 18. One wants to avoid a legal hanging game in any case. For the main accused himself the investigation is "part of a conspiracy". Diack has always been caught up in this thinking. If someone is actually held accountable for what they have done, it must be the result of a conspiracy. For example, Lamine Diack has led world athletics for 16 years.
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