Diack stakes IAAF claim

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The Independent Online

The Senegalese lawyer Lamine Diack will today present his case for retaining control of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the sport's world governing body, following the death of the IAAF's former president, Primo Nebiolo, earlier this month.

The Senegalese lawyer Lamine Diack will today present his case for retaining control of the International Amateur Athletic Federation, the sport's world governing body, following the death of the IAAF's former president, Primo Nebiolo, earlier this month.

Nebiolo, 76, who supervised the transition from amateurism to professionalism in the primary sport of the Olympic Games, died in Rome on 7 November.

As the senior IAAF vice-president, the 66-year-old Diack automatically assumed the presidency, following Nebiolo's death, but said this week that he would like to continue in the role. The situation is likely to dominate discussions at the IAAF council's two-day meeting at their Monaco headquarters today and tomorrow.

IAAF officials said the council would consider how long Diack's interim presidency would continue and whether the position would need an immediate vote by the federation's congress, comprising representatives of the individual federations.

They said a postal vote was possible or else the council could convene a congress at one of the two major events next year, the World Cross-country Championships, in Portugal in March, or the Olympic Games, in Sydney six months later.

Nebiolo, the president of the IAAF since 1981, was the third most important person in world sport after the International Olympic Committee president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, and Sepp Blatter, the president of football's world governing body, Fifa. He was re-elected by the congress for a further four-year term at the World Championships in Seville this year.

One of his main presidential contenders, Helmut Digel, a German professor, appeared to rule himself out of contention last week by taking a new post which will give him less time to devote to federation business.

The IAAF's general secretary, Istvan Gyulai, remains a possible candidate, as does China's Lou Depeng, who would give his country a forum to argue Beijing's case to host the Olympic Games.

An immediate task facing Diack will be the drugs issue which bedevilled Nebiolo over two decades.

The federations's Doping Commission met last weekend to consider the most recent cases, including Britain's 1992 Barcelona Olympic 100 metres champion, Linford Christie.

Christie was cleared by the British governing body after testing positive for the anabolic steroid nandrolone last February, a decision which irritated the IAAF. UK Athletics ruled that it could not be proven by reasonable doubt that the steroid was derived from a prohibited substance. "The IAAF rules if it is not in your body it doesn't matter where it came from," Gyulai said.

IAAF officials said a decision whether or not to refer the Christie case to the federation's arbitration panel was unlikely to be taken until tomorrow, two days before the annual gala dinner.

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