• Son of IAAF president Lamine Diack one of two to leave posts
• Documentary alleged officials involved in doping cover-up
|Papa Massata Diack is one of two men to have left their posts with the IAAF|
pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of a cover-up of
systematic doping in Russia. Photograph: Hendrik Schmidt/EPA
The son of the IAAF president Lamine Diack is among senior officials from the embattled athletics governing body who have stepped down from their posts pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of institutionalised doping in Russia.
Papa Massata Diack, an IAAF marketing consultant with exclusive rights to sell sponsorship in developing regions, has joined Valentin Balakhnichev, president of the Russian athletics federation and the IAAF’s treasurer, in agreeing to step down.
The IAAF issued a statement confirming Papa Massata Diack is suspending his activities and saying it “appreciates” Balakhnichev’s decision.
It said: “The IAAF appreciates the gesture of council member Valentin Balakhnichev, who has been the subject of recent media allegations, who has voluntarily decided to cease exercising his duties as IAAF treasurer and council member until the independent IAAF ethics commission’s ongoing investigation has concluded.
“IAAF marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack has also written to the IAAF confirming that he will suspend his activities on behalf of the IAAF until the commission has delivered its final report.”
The Guardian revealed on Thursday that emails suggested Papa Massata Diack requested a $5m payment – $440,000 of it in cash – from Qatar during the race to host the 2017 world athletics championships in October 2011. It is not clear whether the payment was made.
The IAAF said no contract between it or the state investment entities QSI or Oryx QSI – or any other Qatari companies – had been signed during that period. An IAAF spokesman said he had spoken to Papa Massata Diack and he had denied “receiving any such payment nor ever acting in such a manner on behalf of the IAAF”.
The Qatar Athletics Federation said it did not recognise the emails and instead focused on the legitimacy of its recent successful bid to host the 2019 world athletics championships.
The sport has been thrown into crisis by allegations of systemic doping among Russian athletes, claims of a cover-up at the highest levels of the IAAF and new questions over the conduct of Papa Massata Diack, the 50-year-old son of longstanding IAAF president Lamine.
It has also emerged that a list containing the names of 150 athletes, including three British athletes of whom one is a household name, with suspicious blood tests between 2006 and 2008 had not been used as the basis of a target testing programme.
It is understood that the three officials came under pressure to step down at an executive board meeting on Wednesday and agreed to step aside until the investigation into the claims had been completed.
German broadcaster ARD reported that the three-times Chicago Marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova paid €450,000 to the Russian athletics federation to avoid a doping ban. She was eventually banned following a failed test and claimed she was refunded some of the money.
ARD claimed it had evidence linking the €300,000 refund to Balakhnichev and that Black Tidings, the Singapore-based company that allegedly made the payment, was owned by a business partner of Massata Papa Diack.
The French sports daily L’Equipe has also raised questions about meetings in Moscow hotels in 2011 between Balakhnichev, the IAAF legal adviser Habib Cissé and Massata Papa Diack.
In an interview with L’Equipe on Wednesday Lamine Diack said his son was big enough to look after himself and would deal with the claims when he returned from a trip to China to look for sponsors. Diack reaffirmed his faith in the IAAF ethics commission and said it would deal with the various allegations facing the sport.
Diack is due to stand down as president next year after 16 years in the role. Lord Coe has already declared his candidacy as a potential replacement and he is expected to be opposed by fellow IAAF vice-president Sergey Bubka.