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IOC denies media claim of meddling in French investigation

GENEVA (AP) — The IOC denied claims on Friday that President Thomas Bach intervened to help steer an Olympic official implicated in corruption away from France where the investigation has been led.

German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung’s suggestion that Bach contradicted a regular promise to co-operate fully with prosecutors in Paris running sports-related cases was wrong, the International Olympic Committee said in a statement.

The newspaper published part of a statement by former IOC member Frank Fredericks saying Bach believed he “should be careful not to go to France” when an alleged bribe payment was first reported in March 2017.

Fredericks was charged by French financial prosecutors three years ago over a $299,300 payment he got on the day in October 2009 that IOC members picked Rio de Janeiro as the 2016 Olympics host.

Days after the payment was revealed, four-time Olympic silver medalist Fredericks was stood down by the IOC from his duties including leading a panel assessing 2024 Olympic bidders Paris and Los Angeles.

Between the first media report and his provisional ban, Fredericks spoke by telephone on March 4, 2017 with Bach and later the IOC chief ethics officer Paquerette Girard Zappelli, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported citing his contemporary notes.

“She (Girard Zappelli) then told me that the president (Bach) called her to inform her that I am planning to fly to Europe and I should be careful not to go to France,” Fredericks wrote of the return call he made from his home country Namibia.

The IOC gave a different explanation to the newspaper’s interpretation of the telephone calls.

“There was no order from the IOC President, but (Girard Zappelli) advised Mr. Fredericks … not to continue in his preparations for the IOC Evaluation Commission’s visit to Paris, whilst these allegations were pending,” the IOC said in a statement.

Fredericks, a sprinter who was runner-up in the 100 and 200 meters at both the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, has denied wrongdoing. He said the money was for consultancy work with track and field’s governing body, then known as the IAAF.

The payment is alleged to have originated from a Brazilian businessman, then transferred to Fredericks by Papa Massata Diack. His father is Lamine Diack, the long-time former IAAF President and IOC member.

The Diacks were convicted last month in a Paris court on corruption charges including extorting athletes to hush up doping cases.

The 87-year-old Lamine Diack was sentenced to two years in prison and his son got a five-year sentence in his absence. Senegal has refused to extradite Papa Massata Diack.

Ongoing investigations in the wider French case have linked Papa Massata Diack to suspect payments from Tokyo’s winning bid to host the now-postponed 2020 Olympics.

In a statement to the German newspaper, the IOC said: “Contrary to your insinuation, the IOC has closely cooperated with the French judicial authorities.”

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

By GRAHAM DUNBAR
AP Sports Writer

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