By Neil Robinson
LONDON (Reuters) – IOC member Frankie Fredericks has stepped aside from an IAAF task force following a newspaper report that he received almost $300,000 from disgraced marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack, athletics’ world governing body said on Monday.
Former Slovenia high jumper Rozle Prezelj has replaced Fredericks on the five-strong International Association of Athletics Federations’ task force, which is coordinating the re-admittance process regarding the suspended Russian athletics’ federation RUSAF, the IAAF statement added.
Last week the International Olympic Committee announced an investigation into the allegations concerning Namibian Fredericks made in the French newspaper Le Monde, which also reported that vote buying helped to secure the 2016 Rio Games.
Le Monde alleged the money was paid via Diack’s company, Pamodzi Sports Consulting, in 2009, the same day Rio was awarded the Olympics in a vote in which Fredericks was a scrutineer.
Fredericks, one of the most senior figure at the IAAF and IOC, said he had done nothing wrong in receiving the money from Diack, the son of former IAAF president Lamine.
“I have decided to step aside from the task force so that the integrity of its work is not questioned due to the allegations made against me in Le Monde,” Fredericks was quoted as saying in Monday’s IAAF statement.
“It is important that the taskforce’s mission is seen as free and fair with no outside influence.”
Fredericks, a multiple Olympic and world medalist over 100 and 200 meters, said the $300,000 was for “services rendered” to promote the sport in Africa between 2007 and 2011.
“The payment has nothing whatsoever to do with the Olympic Games and I was not an IAAF board member at the time and did not breach any regulation or rule of ethics,” he told Le Monde.
Papa Massata Diack was banned for life from athletics last year over multi-million dollar corruption allegations.
He has denied any involvement in bribery or corruption and said his father, who is awaiting trial in France on aggravated money laundering and corruption charges, is also innocent.
The IOC said in a statement on Friday: “As far as Mr Fredericks is concerned, he informed the IOC and explained the situation and emphasized his innocence immediately upon being contacted by the journalist.”
IAAF president Sebastian Coe said in Monday’s statement that the taskforce’s work was of “utmost importance in rebuilding confidence in Russia whose national system has failed the aspirations of clean athletes and the integrity of competition.”
Russian athletes were banned from international competition in November 2015 after an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) probe exposed state-sponsored doping on a massive scale.
(Reporting by Neil Robinson; Editing by Ken Ferris)