French court upholds corruption sentence for Papa Massata Diack

Paris appeal court on Thursday upheld a corruption conviction for Papa Massata Diack, son of Lamine Diack, the late former head of the world athletics’ governing body.

Papa Massata, who has denied all wrongdoing, is currently in Senegal, where he fled seven years ago when the French investigation first began. His lawyer said he was unable to attend the trial because he was under legal supervision and could not leave the country.

Papa Massata and his father were at the heart of a scandal that involved taking kickbacks from Russian athletes in return for concealing positive drug tests that enabled them to continue to compete, including at the 2012 London Olympics.

Both men were convicted on fraud charges in France in September 2020. Papa Massata was sentenced at the time to five years in jail and hit with a fine of 1 million euros.

The jail sentence was confirmed by the appeals court on Thursday, while the fine was reduced to 500,000 euros ($527,750.00). A 10-year prohibition on holding any job linked to sports was also pronounced by the court.

“Papa Massata Diack was sentenced more for his absence than for the offenses imputed to him,” his lawyer, Marie-Sophie Goldschmidt, told Reuters. “This decision is rather illogical.”

Reached by Reuters in Senegal, Papa Massata refused to comment on the decision.

His father, Lamine Diack, once one of the most powerful men in world athletics, was handed a four-year prison sentence in 2020 but was never jailed. He remained under house arrest in France and was later released on bail, allowing him to return to Senegal, where he died in December 2021 at age 88.

© Reuters

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