Lamine Diack, ex-track and field chief convicted of corruption, dies at 88

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DAKAR, Senegal — Lamine Diack, the controversial long-time leader of track and field who was convicted of extorting money from athletes and accused of taking bribes in an Olympic hosting vote, has died, his family said. He was 88.

Awa Diack, niece of the former International Olympic Committee member, told The Associated Press that “my uncle Lamine Diack passed away Thursday to Friday night.“

Diack led track and field’s governing body — then known as the IAAF, now World Athletics — for 16 years. Allegations of wrongdoing emerged soon after Diack’s leadership of his sport ended.

Diack died in his home country, Senegal, where he was allowed to return this year from France after being detained under house arrest for several years and then convicted of various corruption charges linked to abuses of his prominent positions in world sports.

“With the death of Lamine Diack, Senegal loses one of its most illustrious sons,” the west African country’s President Macky Sall said via Twitter.

A former politician in Senegal, Diack became head of the IAAF in 1999 and saw the sport flourish during his time in charge, in part because of the popularity of sprinter Usain Bolt.

Behind the scenes, Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack were involved in wrongdoing that would taint the integrity of their sport and the IOC’s bidding contests and votes to choose Olympic host cities.

They were linked to extorting cash from runners, to cover up their doping cases before the 2012 London Olympics, and taking bribes from Brazilian officials to help ensure Rio de Janeiro was picked as the 2016 Olympics host. Among its opponents was a Chicago bid supported at the vote in Denmark by then-President Barack Obama.

An ongoing French investigation has linked Papa Massata Diack to financial wrongdoing connected to Tokyo’s winning bid to host the 2020 Olympics.

Diack was sentenced to four years in prison, two of them suspended, in September 2020 for covering up the payment of bribes by Russian athletes involved in doping cases and the financing by Russia of political campaigns in Senegal.

In May, Diack returned home to Senegal from France, where he had been under house arrest, after a local soccer club paid a bond of about $600,000 to let him leave.

Diack was convicted on multiple charges of corruption during his tenure, some of it related to the Russian doping scandal. His son was sentenced in his absence to five years in prison.

The former IAAF president’s conviction marked a spectacular fall from grace for such an influential figure in the world of Olympic sports.

At the sentencing last week in Brazil of its one-time most senior Olympic official Carlos Nuzman, the court was told bribes were paid so that the Diack family could help secure several IOC votes for Rio in 2009.

The years-long case also implicated one of Africa’s top track athletes, four-time Olympic medalist Frank Fredericks of Namibia who rose as an IOC member to take a seat on its executive board. The IOC suspended Fredericks after French investigators revealed he got a $300,000 payment on the day of the Rio vote in October 2009 routed via the Diacks.

At his own trial, Lamine Diack was also found guilty of being part of a scheme that squeezed $3.8 million in bribes out of Russian athletes suspected of doping.

The hush money allowed the athletes, who should have been suspended, to keep competing. Diack was also found guilty on breach of trust charges but acquitted of money laundering.

His son, Papa Massata, worked as a long-time IAAF marketing consultant. The French judge said $15 million was funneled to the younger Diack’s companies from various contracts negotiated by the IAAF while his father was in charge.

Even before he became IAAF president, Lamine Diack took irregular cash payments from the Swiss sports marketing agency ISL that was later at the center of a kickbacks scandal that rocked world soccer body FIFA.

The IOC ethics commission formally warned Diack in 2011 after a British television program detailed ISL payments to Diack in 1993 amounting to $30,000 and 30,000 French francs. At the time Diack was a vice president at the IAAF, which was negotiating a deal with the marketing agency.

Diack was a full IOC member for 15 years until 2014, then got an honorary membership which ended the next year when the extortion of athletes was detailed as part of the Russian doping scandal.

During the French investigation, Diack reportedly said under questioning that he asked for about $1.6 million from Russian interests in 2011 to support opposition candidates in upcoming elections in Senegal. The 2012 presidential vote was won by Sall, who later denied getting funding from Diack for his campaign.

Sall wrote on Twitter that Diack was “a man of great dimension. My heartfelt condolences to the whole Nation.”

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

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Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

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Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
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Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

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