The trial of disgraced former athletics chief Lamine Diack began on Monday with explosive claims that competitors were given the chance to have doping charges covered up in exchange for cash.
Wearing a face mask, the 87-year-old ex-president of the IAAF was in Paris for the first of six days of hearings which will weigh evidence that his reign at the governing body was riddled with corruption.
Documents seized during a years-long investigation suggested athletes paid to have doping charges buried or delayed, under a service known as ‘full protection’, the court president said, outlining the case, with tentacles stretching from Europe to Asia and Africa.
Diack is being tried for corruption, money-laundering and breach of trust. Prosecutors say he solicited around £3million from athletes suspected by the IAAF of doping.
About two dozen Russian athletes were reportedly involved. Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, who testified to investigators about illicit payments, said she paid £400,000 – a large chunk of which was refunded to her when she was later suspended for doping despite the alleged pay-off, the court president detailed.
Prosecutors have also charged Diack for involvement in a £1.18m payment from Russia for use in electoral politics in his native Senegal.
Diack is expected to testify today.