French authorities investigating allegations of corruption in international athletics on Tuesday said they had extended their probe to examine possible bribery in the bidding processes for the 2016 and 2020 Summer Games.
An official from the France’s Financial Prosecutor’s office (PNF) which confirmed the announcement, however, stressed that so far nothing had been proved and that the current investigation into the bids was still a simple question of verification.
Accusations of corruption and money-laundering in athletics first surfaced last year following the controversial awarding of the 2021 world championships to the American city of Eugene, in Oregon, prompting the commencement of the French investigation.
The link to the Olympic bids was established after it was revealed that former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Lamine Diack had allegedly delivered ‘parcels’ to six IOC members during the bidding for the 2016 Games.
A footnote in an independent report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, which led to Russia being banned from international athletics for state-sponsored doping in the country, also suggested Diack – an IOC member at the time – was prepared to sell his vote for the 2020 Games.
“Turkey lost LD’s (Lamine Diack’s) support because they did not pay sponsorship moneys of $4 to 5 million either to the Diamond League or IAAF,” the report said.
“The 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo,” it added. “According (to) the transcript, the Japanese did pay such a sum…the IC did not investigate this matter further for it was not within our remit.”
Diack has since been banned from the sport for life alongside his son, Papa Massata Diack, for blackmailing a Russian athlete into paying vast sums of money to cover up a positive doping test.
Papa Diack is also wanted by Interpol to face criminal charges in France.
The IOC, in response to the news, said in a statement that they had seen “no evidence” of bribery surrounding the awarding of the 2016 and 2020 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo respectively, but would continue to monitor the situation in order to act on any evidence provided by prosecutors.
“The IOC has been in close contact with the French prosecutors since the beginning of this investigation last year,” the Olympic body said in a statement on the first of a three-day executive board meeting in Switzerland.
“The IOC’s chief ethics and compliance officer had already asked for the IOC to be fully informed in a timely manner of all issues that may refer to Olympic matters and has already applied to become a party to the investigations led by the French judicial authorities.”
Separately, Rio organisers have excluded any possibility that the vote to award the Brazilian city the 2016 Olympics could have been tainted, instead attributing their win to having “the best project”.
The IOC has previously had to deal with bribery amongst its members, most notably before the Salt Lake City Games in 2002, when an investigation uncovered the biggest corruption scandal in its history and led to the expulsion of ten of its members.