The former anti-doping chief of athletics’ world governing body told a French court on Monday that Lamine Diack urged him to bend the rules on Russian doping cases to avoid “a scandal” that would scare off sponsors.
Gabriel Dolle is being tried in Paris alongside Diack, the Senegalese former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), who is accused of accepting millions of dollars to cover up Russian doping tests.
Dolle, a 78-year-old Frenchman, is himself charged with “receiving bribes” amounting to 190,000 euros between 2013 and 2014.
He told the trial he had been trying to find a compromise between the “higher interest” of the IAAF, since renamed World Athletics, and doping suspicions surrounding Russian athletes.
In late 2011 and early 2012, the IAAF drew up a list of 23 Russian athletes whose anti-doping tests gave cause for concern.
Dolle said Diack “asked me to consider… the critical financial situation” of the IAAF.
“With the list… it was going to cause a scandal which could have influenced negotiations with sponsors and put them in jeopardy,” Dolle told the court.
Dolle said he was “trying not to provoke a scandal” and the man who considered himself to be a “hardliner” insisted he had never avoided handing down punishments for doping offenders.
When the judge in the trial, Marie-Rose Hunault, pointed out that some of the names on the list who were allowed to continue competing not only went on to take part in the 2012 London Olympics, but won medals, Dolle said he had been “betrayed”.
“I was slightly a hostage to a commitment I had given my president,” Dolle said, referring to Diack.
Asked about the payments he is accused of receiving, Dolle said he believed 50,000 euros he was given in an envelope by Diack’s son Papa Massata Diack, a marketing consultant for the IAAF, was a “bonus” for his handling of the Russian doping cases.
He said the 90,000 euros that Lamine Diack gave him in two payments in 2013 and 2014 was compensation for being “sacked in a brutal and ungrateful way”.
Diack, who was in charge of the IAAF between 1999 and 2015, will give evidence when the trial resumes on Wednesday.
The 87-year-old is charged with “giving and receiving bribes”, “breach of trust” and “organised money laundering”.