Lamine Diack, controversial former president of world athletics, dies

Former president of the International Athletics Federation (IAAF) from 1999 to 2015, Lamine Diack died, Friday, December 3, in Dakar (Senegal), at the age of 88. Senegalese President Macky Sall greeted on Twitter “A man of great dimensions”, and regretted that the country thus lost the“One of his most illustrious sons”.

Public tributes were however limited to Dakar. The silence from the rest of the world and the lack of compliments when it comes to saluting Lamine Diack’s long career can be easily explained. For six years, the course of the former sports leader had been marred by corruption cases, which had already earned him a sentence of four years in prison, including two closed, on September 16, 2020, in Paris. A decision he had appealed. He was, moreover, indicted in another case, the French justice suspecting him of having distorted the attribution of the Olympic Games of Rio (2016) and Tokyo in exchange for money, and had not obtained the right to leave France, in the spring of 2021, only against the payment of a deposit.

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Born June 7, 1933 in Dakar, the third child of a large family, Lamine Diack first experienced a first life as an accomplished athlete. French long jump champion in 1958 – the year of Senegal’s independence – he was also passionate about football. “I was born 150 meters from the stadium and the prison. I chose the stadium! “, he liked to summarize. He then juggles between the responsibilities of sports leader and politician, quickly climbing the ranks and multiplying positions.

Father of fifteen children

Mayor of Dakar (1978-1980), he became vice-president of the Senegalese National Assembly (1988-1993), among other prestigious positions. On the sport side, he joined the National Olympic Committee of Senegal in the 1970s, before taking the presidency in 1985. At the same time, he reached the upper echelons of the IAAF. Vice-president of the institution, he took the lead on the death of Primo Nebiolo in November 1999, first by interim then at the discretion of elections with comfortable scores. On the family side, finally, he will have fifteen children with his first two wives.

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Patron of the first Olympic sport, the Senegalese is fortunate that his reign coincides with that of Jamaican star Usain Bolt. He prides himself on having brought “his” Federation out of great financial difficulties. But at what cost ? In the fall of 2015, everything ended in blood sausage, and a long legal drama began. Arrested at Roissy on November 3, 2015, Lamine Diack is suspected of having hushed up doping cases in Russian athletics in exchange for bribes. It is forbidden to leave French territory. Judged in 2020 for “aggravated money laundering” and “breach of trust”, he partially acknowledges the facts: “Who made the decision that it was necessary to display [les sanctions] ? It’s me. There is no problem. “

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Lamine Diack, controversial former president of world athletics, dies