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French Prosecutor: Former IAAF President's Son Focus of Corruption Probe

  • VOA News

FILE - Papa Massata Diack, center, son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack, arrives at the central police station in Dakar, Senegal, Feb. 17, 2016.

France's financial prosecutor said Tuesday the son of the president of track and field's global governing body was at the center of large corruption investigations.

"The investigations revealed a large-scale system of corruption around Papa Massata Diack, son of Lamine Diack, former IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) president and influential members of the International Olympic Committee," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The IAAF has regulatory and sanctions authority over IAAF competitions.

The prosecutor's office said it has evidence showing that payments were made in exchange for votes of IAAF and International Olympic Committee members over the selection of host cities for the "biggest global sporting events."

The probes initially focused on Tokyo's designation as the host city for the 2020 Olympic games, but were expanded to include the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.

They stem from a two-year-old corruption probe in France that first came to light with the November 2015 arrest of Lamine Diack. French authorities had been investigating allegations that Diack, his son, and others were involved in blackmailing athletes and covering-up doping violations.

The French investigation has evolved into a large probe that involves several law enforcement agencies outside of France. The investigation, named "Unfair Play," has authorities looking beyond the IAAF to explore possible vote-buying to influence where sports events are hosted.

Brazilian police raided the house of the country's Olympics chief Tuesday on allegations International Olympic Committee members were bribed to select Rio de Janeiro as host of the 2016 games.

French anti-corruption Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke was seen with Brazil's federal police as they raided the posh seaside Rio home of Carlos Nuzman, who was detained for questioning but was not arrested. Nuzman's lawyer, Sergio Mazzillo, told reporters outside Nuzman's home that he was innocent and would cooperate with authorities.

Brazilian police said in a statement they were investigating an "international corruption scheme." The statement said 70 officers, accompanied by French officials, searched 11 sites in Rio. An arrest warrant was issued for Nuzman's associate, Miami resident Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho, who received lucrative contracts from the Rio government in the spending spree that preceded the Olympics games. A former associate of Soares Filho, Eliane Pereira Cavalcante, was arrested in Rio.

Brazilian prosecutor Fabiana Schneider told reporters Tuesday that Soares Filho allegedly bribed Papa Massata Diack before the 2009 vote that resulted in Rio being named host of the 2016 games. Diack's father was president of the IAAF at the time and had considerable influence over African votes on the IOC.

Schneider said Nuzman had been the "linchpin" between Soares Filho and the younger Diack.

Nuzman's lawyer, Sergio Mazzillo, told reporters outside Nuzman's home that he was innocent and would cooperate with authorities.

The Rio games were generally considered a success until revelations came to light of massive corruption during the preparations.

Former Rio governor Sergio Cabral was sentenced in June to 14 years in jail. He was convicted of bribery and money laundering, including the embezzlement of $64 million from public works projects like Rio's iconic Maracana football stadium.

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