Former global athletics supremo Lamine Diack should not be made a “scapegoat” in a corruption trial in which he stands accused of accepting bribes to cover up positive dope tests by Russian athletes, his defence lawyer pleaded on the last day of the trial in Paris.
Simon Ndiaye called on the judges to “ignore appearances, be wary of purely moral judgments” and “resist the temptation to make this case an exemplary case… and Lamine Diack a scapegoat to purify the IAAF”.
Diack, who led the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from 1999 to 2015, faces charges of “giving and receiving bribes”, “breach of trust” and “organised money laundering”.
The 87-year-old Senegalese is accused of delaying punishment for Russian athletes who failed doping tests in return for payment and in order to ensure that prospective sponsors were not discouraged.
Prosecutors have called for Diack to serve five years in prison and be fined a maximum of 500,000 euros.
Diack has told the court he agreed to delay bans for 23 Russian athletes, but denied he knew that officials from the body had directly or indirectly asked those athletes for hundreds of thousands of euros to hush up their cases.
He said he was acting to safeguard “the financial health of the IAAF” because the federation – since renamed World Athletics – was negotiating major sponsorship contracts with Russian bank VTB and a Russian broadcaster at the time.
The court has heard that several of the Russian athletes concerned went on to win medals at the 2012 London Olympics.
Diack’s son Papa Massata Diack, a former marketing consultant for the IAAF, is also on trial but he remains in Senegal where the authorities refuse to hand him over to French authorities.
Summing up his defence, lawyer Ndiaye admitted his client’s actions had not been “ethical”.
“We must admit things,” Ndiaye said. “But it is not criminal.”
Diack’s lawyer also had a parting shot at Sebastian Coe, who took over from the Senegalese as head of World Athletics.
“Was he the prince who awaited the end of the king’s reign to ascend the throne, did this prince keep silent?”
The court has heard that World Athletics is claiming €41.2 million compensation from the Diacks.
It says the doping scandal led major sponsors Adidas and Nestle to sever ties with the federation.
A verdict is not expected for weeks.