Frankie Fredericks in court over awarding of 2016 Olympics to Rio
Paris — Former world champion sprinter Frankie Fredericks appeared before a Paris judge on Thursday as part of a probe into graft allegations over the awarding of the 2016 Olympics to Rio.
Fredericks, an International Olympics Committee (IOC) member, received $299,300 (¤262,000) from Papa Massata Diack, son of former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Lamine Diack, on October 2 2009 — the day Brazil won the bid.
The IOC said in July that it was co-operating with French authorities investigating the allegations against the Namibian former 200m world champion and four-time Olympic silver medallist. The 50-year-old stepped down as head of the committee evaluating bids to host the 2024 Olympics in March after the corruption allegations were reported in French media.
Fredericks insists that the payments were received for promotional services provided between 2007 and 2011 under a contract signed on March 11 2007, and had nothing to do with the Olympics. The payment was first revealed by French newspaper, Le Monde.
Fredericks released a statement at the time, saying: "I categorically deny any direct or indirect involvement in any untoward conduct and confirm that I have never breached any law, regulation or rule of ethics in respect of any IOC election process."
French investigators are looking into the possibility that bribes were paid over the awarding of both the 2016 Olympics to Rio and the 2020 Tokyo Games.
The IAAF provisionally suspended Fredericks from its ruling council on July 17 as it launched a probe into the graft allegations against him. In March, Fredericks also stepped down from an IAAF task-force working on getting doping-tainted Russia back into global sport. Papa Massata and Lamine Diack also face charges in France over millions of dollars paid to cover up doping failures by Russian athletes.
Brazilian authorities are also conducting an investigation into vote buying in the attribution of the 2016 Games to Rio. Brazilian Olympic Committee chairman Carlos Nuzman has been charged with corruption over allegations he and former Rio mayor Sérgio Cabral solicited a payment from a Brazilian businessman to Papa Massata Diack to secure votes for the election of Rio.
Businessman Arthur Soares allegedly paid $2m to Diack just three days before the IOC vote in Copenhagen in 2009 in which Rio won the right to host the Games.
Cabral is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence for bribery and money-laundering while Soares is on the run.