Athletics Championships
Athletics Championships Charléty Image credit: Getty Images

The former head of world athletics governing body, Lamine Diack, was found guilty on Wednesday by a court in Paris, France for corruption in Russian doping cases.

The 87-year-old Senegalese was sentenced to two years in prison, with another two years suspended. The court also imposed a fine of 500,000 euros (about 592,500 U.S. dollars) on Diack.

According to Reuters, Diack was found guilty of accepting bribes from Russian athletes suspected of doping, to cover up test results and let them compete in major events including the 2012 London Olympics.

Diack, who led the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) which has been renamed World Athletics, from 1999 to 2015, said he would immediately lodge an appeal. He was arrested in France in 2015, and then released on bail.

His son, Papa Massata Diack, a former IAAF marketing consultant, was sentenced to five years in prison and fined one million euros. The younger Diack, who is wanted on an Interpol red notice, remains in Senegal.

Two former Russian athletics officials, Valentin Balakhnichev and Alexei Melnikov were sentenced to three and two years in prison respectively, according to AFP.

Balakhnichev, former head of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), told Sputnik that he did not agree with the decision of the Paris court and intends to appeal the ruling to higher judicial authorities.

World Athletics issued a statement on Wednesday to support the decisions of the court. “Whilst we are disappointed this happened in our sport, we are grateful for the strong and clear decisions that have been taken against the individuals involved and charged with these crimes, and we would like to ensure that similar actions by individuals can never happen again in our sport,” the statement noted.

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