The son of Lamine Diack, the president of the world governing body of athletics, appeared to request a payment of $5m in the course of Doha’s failed bid to win the right to host the 2017 world championships, according to leaked emails seen by the Guardian.
A cache of documents that appear to lift the lid on the affluent, sometimes chaotic rush to bring sporting events to Qatar suggests an email purporting to be from Papa Massata Diack, a consultant to the International Association of Athletics Federations, asked for the payment – $4.5m via bank transfer and $440,000 in cash to be collected in person in Doha – in October 2011. It is not clear whether the payment was made.
The IAAF said no contract between it or the state investment entities QSI or Oryx QSI – or any other Qatari companies – had been signed during that period. An IAAF spokesman said he had spoken to Papa Massata Diack and he had denied “receiving any such payment nor ever acting in such a manner on behalf of the IAAF”.
Papa Massata Diack failed to respond to direct requests for comment.
The email was sent around a month before the final presentations for the 2017 bid, in which Doha lost out to London. However, last month Doha returned to the table and succeeded in landing the world championships for 2019.
The email requesting the payment and including bank details included a letter of affirmation from the then IAAF commercial and marketing director, Luis Carulla, confirming Papa Massata Diack had been sublicensed the exclusive marketing rights for territories including Qatar.
“Please find enclosed the IAAF letter of affirmation that QSI [Qatar Sports Investments] or Oryx QSI is asking. I do not owe it to them but to Your HH and yourself as only you know the role I play in this matter,” said the email.
“Attached is also the bank account details for the transfer to be done of US$4.500.000 as agreed; the balance of US$440,000 is to stay in Doha cash as I will collect it there when I came next.”
In a statement in response to questions to the Qatar Olympic Committee, the Qatar Athletics Federation said it did not recognise the emails and instead focused on the legitimacy of its successful bid for the 2019 world championships. “We are not aware of the email exchanges to which you refer. Our bid was conducted in a professional manner and complied with all rules and regulations,” said its general secretary, Mohammed al-Kuwari..
“We won the bid because our offer was ultimately the strongest, with compact, world-class facilities for athletes and visitors, as well as the opportunity for the sport to expand its horizons into a new part of the world.”
The emails cover a period from 2008 to 2011, during which Doha was in the process of bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games and Qatar controversially won the right to host the 2022 World Cup.
Papa Massata Diack is a prominent figure within the athletics world and has often been in the thick of the action when it comes to bidding for its events, the politics of the IAAF and the sponsorship and broadcasting contracts that underpin the sport.
The bid team from Brisbane were furious in 2007, when the rights to the 2011 world championships went to Daegu in South Korea and the 2013 edition to Moscow. Papa Massata Diack acted as a consultant to the Russian bid. For both winning cities underwritten sponsorship deals were a key factor.
The company founded by Papa Massata Diack, Pamodzi Sports Marketing, also branched out beyond athletics and was one of those implicated during the summer in the scandal involving World Cup hospitality tickets in Brazil.
Papa Massata Diack told the Associated Press at the time that the deal with Match Hospitality, through which tickets ended up on the black market, was arranged through the Nigerian arm of the company of which he was no longer the owner. He acts as an official adviser to the IAAF in emerging markets under agreement with its marketing partner, the Japanese firm Dentsu.
The IAAF confirmed Papa Massata Diack held the contract to exploit marketing opportunities in emerging markets including Brazil, Russia, India, China, UAE, Qatar, South Korea, Mexico, Africa and the Caribbean. The contract was signed in 2007 and runs until 2015. It also confirmed he had a sublicensing agrement with Dentsu signed in 2010.
Dentsu recently renewed its own marketing contract with the IAAF until 2029 in a deal reportedly worth £11m a year until 2019 and £14m per year thereafter.
Of the five world championships in this decade, four were awarded to cities in emerging markets – Daegu (2011), Moscow (2013), Beijing (2015) and Doha (2019).
In its response, the IAAF praised Papa Massata Diack’s role in delivering revenue streams, listing new deals with VTB Bank in Russia, Samsung in South Korea, Nirmal Lifestyle in India, CCTV 5 in China and the Abu Dhabi Sports Channel in the UAE.
It also said an independent ethics committee was introduced in 2014 to handle any complaints about the sport, which has been engulfed recently by doping claims alleging systematic cheating by the Russian Athletics Federation.