Several months ago, it was noted that former IAAF President Lamine Diack, who is sitting in his home in Paris, with an ankle bracelet on, and 550,000 Euro bail, had requested a meeting with current IAAF President Seb Coe. The meeting, per www.InsidetheGames.biz, was scheduled to happen on May 25, 2018. The meeting was to happen in the presence of French Judge Renaud Van Ruymbeke. Per a copyrighted story in Inside the Games, the fine newsletter noted today that Mr. Diack has cancelled this meeting, citing medical reasons.
Lamine Diack, photo by PhotoRun.net
Why should you care?
Well, read on dear readers.
The level of corruption that Lamine Diack and his son, Papa Diack allegedly reached, while miniscule in standards, if one looks at FIFA corruption, has never been resolved. Papa Diack has been on the Interpol Most Wanted list since December 2015. Think about that. How bad does one have be to stay on the Interpol Most Wanted List for nearly two and one half years? Lamine Diack has been under house arrest for nearly that long, with an ankel bracelet, and bail of 550,000 Euros.
Seb Coe, 2018 World Indoor Championships, Birmingham, England, photo by PhotoRun.net
Confounding French authorities, the government of Senegal has refused to allow extradition of Papa Diack. Suggestions are that Papa Diack was able to procur, for the current President of Senegal a most auspicious donation from a foreign government. Consider Papa Diack a broker of extraordinary means. Consider that donation was allegedly procured from the president of a large nation, who just celebrated his fourth resounding election, and one sees how sport and global poliitics make fascinating bedfellows. That, dear readers, will be another, much longer column.
Papa Diack is quite the clever one. As French authorities closed in, and media stories started to circulate, Diack used a tactic once called, “Scorched Earth”. He destroyed all he could, and did it quite easily, without leaving the protection of his friends in Senegal, ending the careers of several IAAF professionals. This was a surgical strike. It was done to provide a clear message: Screw with me at your own peril. Many wondered who else he had corrupted? That question has not been answered.
Never underestimate one’s competitors. That is a precept of Von Clausewitz, Vom Kriege (On War). Papa Diack operates best during what can be called, euphemistically, “the fog of war” (Nebel des Krieges). Modern media tends to encourage the “fog of war,”(described as the ability to react to fast moving situations in a very fluid environment) and Papa Diack has come out swinging. Each time he does, his adversaries seem shocked. Papa Diack’s actions should shock no one. He has played his hand, but variations of that hand will continue to result in damage.
From allegedly taking bribes to allegedly keep positive drug tests quiet to allegedly nfluencing voting for the Rio Olympics, how far does one have to go to consider if the Diacks required financial support for all of their activities? Where did their level of depravity and cunning end?Where did their greed end?
This stench will lay over our sport until these questions are answered. Judge Van Ruymbeke is trying to ascertain what really went on. 84 year old Lamine Diack, the disgraced President of the IAAF, was hoping for a legacy for his time as President. Due to his son, Papa, and his actions, there is a legacy of corruption. Lamine Diack and Papa Diack have come close to destroying our sport. Truth be told, no one stopped them.
Recognitiion of the amazing investigative work done by the French criminal authorities, Interpol, FBI and DOJ, and various global media organizations must also be made. Much of it is still outside of our knowledge base. While their focus was on global sports corruption, and there is much out there, athletics was caught in the cross hairs.
One more point; nearly all of the corruption of the Diacks was first spotted and outed by concerned members of the sport, and in many cases, by the IAAF. That is not a pat on the back. That is fact.
Papa Diack does not seem to care about the current unhappiness of his father, Lamine Diack. Papa will not head back to Paris to lessen the focus on his father. More than likely, the French authorities will have to put the proverbial hammer down on the former IAAF President. Lamine Diack will end up spending some time in a French prison. Perhaps, and it is only fitting, Mr. Diack may end up building high jump pits for a French athletics equipment manufacterer (yes, I have the catalogs that suggest that process), one of the current prison occupations in France. I am no doctor, but, that is not how the former President considered spending his retirement. C’est dommage.
Seb Coe continues to travel the world, supporting events and providing sound bites on the strength of the sport. That is good and that is his job. At this time, the sport needs three things. It needs a COO who knows the sport and has had experience in the global world of media. It needs a new and vital sponsor who sees the potential of the sport and its resliliance. And it needs a program to recognize the importance and support of independent media organizations to the sport. Those media organizations need access to all communications platforms.. Truth is this: unlike any other global sport, athletics has evens for every shape, size and age group on this planet. Streaming video, new and vital stars of our sport, and the art of story telling can make athletics much more attractive than it is now.
The culture of track & field is one of the sports’selling points, yet, we hardly hear about it. The sport’s leadship, as it is, spends too much of their time trying to defend the sport. And the defense is getting old. No one hears it.
Somehow, Seb Coe and the IAAF need to control the narrative of the Diacks. They are not going to go away. But the corruption of the Diacks must be recognized as what it was: corruption of the sport at the highest level. Then, and only then, can the sport move on and embrace the opportunities open to the worlds’ oldest and most resilient sport.
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