Ex-IAAF president’s son, Russian officials get life bans in track corruption scandal

IAAF
AP
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LONDON (AP) — The son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack and two Russian officials were banned from track and field for life on Thursday after an investigation into blackmail, extortion and doping cover-ups.

A fourth official, former IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle, received a five-year ban from the ethics commission of the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Banned for life were Papa Massata Diack, who worked as an IAAF marketing consultant; former Russian athletics federation head Valentin Balakhnichev, who was also honorary treasurer of the IAAF; and Alexei Melnikov, former head coach of Russia’s race-walking and long-distance running programs.

The sanctions centered on the case of Russian marathoner Liliya Shobukhova, who was allegedly extorted out of hundreds of thousands of dollars to avoid a doping ban before the 2012 London Olympics.

In addition, Papa Massata Diack and Balakhnichev were fined $25,000 and Melnikov was fined $15,000.

Dolle was banned only for five years because “his sins were those of omission, not commission,” the IAAF panel said.

The investigation followed a report by German broadcaster ARD in December 2014 alleging that former Chicago Marathon winner Shobukhova paid 450,000 euros ($520,000) to Russian officials, who threatened her with a doping ban before the London Games.

When Shobukhova was initially banned for two years in 2014, her husband reportedly received a 300,000 euro ($345,000) refund payment linked to Balakhnichev. Then treasurer at the IAAF, he stepped down within days of the program being broadcast.

Thursday’s verdicts are separate from the criminal investigation in France into former IAAF officials. Lamine Diack was taken into custody by French authorities in November on corruption and money-laundering charges, suspected of taking more than 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to blackmail athletes and cover up positive tests.

Dolle and Habib Cisse, Diack’s legal adviser at the IAAF, were also detained and charged with corruption in France.

In a statement, the IAAF said it was “angered” that the officials sanctioned by the ethics panel “conspired to extort what were in substance bribes from the athlete by acts of blackmail.”

“The IAAF has already introduced corrective measures to make sure this sort of interference can’t happen again,” it said, adding that the four banned officials are “no longer associated with the IAAF in any capacity.”

“The life bans announced today could not send a stronger message that those who attempt to corrupt or subvert the sport of athletics will be brought to justice,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe said.

The ethics sanctions were announced a week before a World Anti-Doping Agency commission, headed by Dick Pound, delivers the second part of a report into allegations of widespread doping in track and field. The report is expected to focus on allegations made by British and German media outlets of rampant blood doping, based on leaked information from an IAAF database.

Pound’s first report alleged state-sponsored doping and corruption in Russia. The findings led the IAAF to suspend Russia’s athletics federation, leaving the country’s track and field athletes in danger of missing the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

An IAAF task force will visit Russia on Sunday and Monday to inspect the country’s response to the scandal.

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Aksel Lund Svindal, Olympic Alpine champ, has testicular cancer, ‘prognosis good’

Aksel Lund Svindal
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Aksel Lund Svindal, a retired Olympic Alpine skiing champion from Norway, said he underwent surgery for testicular cancer and the prognosis “looked very good.”

“Tests, scans and surgery all happened very quickly,” Svindal, 39, wrote on social media. “And already after the first week I knew the prognoses looked very good. All thanks to that first decision to go see a doctor as soon as I suspected something was off.”

Svindal retired in 2019 after winning the Olympic super-G in 2010 and downhill in 2018. He also won five world titles among the downhill, combined and giant slalom and two World Cup overall titles.

Svindal said he felt a change in his body that prompted him to see a doctor.

“The last few weeks have been different,” he wrote. “But I’m able to say weeks and not months because of great medical help, a little luck and a good decision.

“I wasn’t sure what it was, or if it was anything at all. … [I] was quickly transferred to the hospital where they confirmed what the doctor suspected. Testicle cancer.”

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France vs. Mali Group B
4 a.m. Australia vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada vs. Japan Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final