Former athletics boss Lamine Diack returns to Senegal


The former head of world athletics, Lamine Diack, sentenced by a French court to four years in prison for corruption, has returned to Senegal, a relative said on Tuesday.

Diack’s relative, who requested anonymity, said that his family greeted him with “joy, fervour and gratitude” as he got off the plane late Monday.

The 87-year-old Diack led the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), now renamed World Athletics, from 1999 to 2015.

He was found guilty in September of corruption in covering up Russian doping cases and was sentenced to four years in prison, of which two years were suspended, and fined 500,000 euros (600,000 dollars). Diack has appealed.

At the time, the presiding judge in the court in Paris, Rose-Marie Hunault, said Diack was unlikely to go to jail.

“Given your age you can expect conditional release,” she said.

Diack is hugely popular in his home country.

“People in Senegal are eager to see him,” said our Dakar correspondent Wahany Johnson Sambou.

“People in Senegal have always called Lamine Diack’s trial and house detention in France a hostage-taking,” Wahany said.

Diack was being held in France because of his indictment in a second case involving suspected Olympic vote-buying. His passport had been confiscated.

But a judge recently lifted the ban on Diack leaving France, provided he paid a bond and that he continues to respond to summonses, according to the order seen by AFP.

Senegalese Premier League side Jaraaf de Dakar, where Diack was club president, raised the money to pay the bond.

Diack’s family member who spoke to AFP said that the former athletics boss had not returned home since 2015.

“He will take the time to rest, to visit the graves of his family members,” the relative said, adding that Diack remained “calm and combative”.