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Senegal: Ex IAAF chief makes discreet homecoming after release

The former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now World Athletics, on Monday evening, returned to his…

The former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now World Athletics, on Monday evening, returned to his home country of Senegal after more than a five- year absence.By Ibrahima Dione

On May 10, 2021, Blaise Diagne International Airport (AIBD), located some 60 kilometers from Dakar, welcomed no ordinary passenger in the person of 87-year-old Lamine Diack.

The French long jump champion of 1958 was returning home. 

In his blue double-breasted suit topped with a black hat, the former boss of World Athletics, from 1999 to 2015 was unsteady on his feet, using a cane he held in his right hand. 

Relatives also showed their caring side toward him. 

Images of Diack’s homecoming have been quickly taken over by social media.

Among the handful of people surrounding the old man was Cheikh Seck, a former goalkeeper of the Senegalese national football team in the 1980s.

Seck is one of Lamine Diack’s successors at the helm of Jaraaf de Dakar, one of Senegal’s leading football teams.

Under his leadership, Jaraaf sold part of its land assets to pay the release bond to the tune of € 500,000 (approximately 328 million CFA francs) set by the French judiciary. 

For this purpose, an extraordinary General Assembly was convened on April 17th.

Lamine Diack was sentenced, on September 16, 2020, to jail for four years, two of them suspended by the Criminal Court of Paris (France). 

The Senegalese national was found “guilty of active and passive corruption (but also) breach of trust” in a vast network of corruption, which has covered up cases of doping of Russian athletes.

Struck with a ban on leaving French territory because of his placement under judicial supervision, in November 2015, the former Senegalese Minister of Sports appealed against his conviction at first instance. 

But he remains subject to a second procedure.

Suspicion of vote-buying weighs on Lamine Diack over allocating the Olmypic Games to Rio de Jeneiro (Brazil 2016) and Tokyo 2020 (Japan). 

According to his lawyer, Simon Ndiaye, “he will fight to the bitter end to clear his name.”

In the meantime, Lamine Diack, who was born in the populous district of Rebeuss in downtown Dakar, will get to see his son Pape Massata Diack again. 

In the same legal case, Pape Massata, a former IAAF marketing consultant was handed a five-year prison sentence with a fine of € 1 million (655 million CFA francs). 

Despite an arrest warrant issued by a French court against him, Senegal has flatly refused to extradite him.

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