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Papa Massata Diack Corruption Appeal Opens

FILE - Papa Massata Diack, son of former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Lamine Diack, speaks during an interview with AFP on March 6, 2017 in Dakar, Senegal.

The appeal trial of Papa Massata Diack, son of Lamine Diack, the late former head of world athletic’s governing body, over a graft conviction opened in Paris Friday, one of his French lawyers told Reuters.

Papa Massata, who fled France to Senegal seven years ago when the French investigation first began, was not present at the appeal hearing.

His lawyers asked that the hearing be postponed because Papa Massata was under "legal supervision" in Senegal where he faces a similar investigation and could not leave the country, but the court rejected the request.

Papa Massata and his father were the focus of a scandal — taking kickbacks from Russian athletes so they can conceal positive drug tests. The drug enabled the Russian athletes to continue competing, including at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Both men were convicted on fraud charges in France in September 2020. Papa Massata was sentenced to five years in jail and slapped with a 1 million euro fine for his part in the scam.

French prosecutors have argued that Papa Massata was at the center of a corruption investigation across Europe, Asia and the Americas, including the award of the 2020 Olympic Games to Tokyo, Japan and the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

"He categorically contests the allegations," his French lawyer Antoine Beauquier said. "He is being criticized for being successful."

Lamine Diack, once one of the most powerful men in world athletics as the head of the International Association of Athletics Federations, got a four-year prison sentence in 2020 but was never jailed.

Diack remained under house arrest in France and was later released on bail, thus allowing him to return to Senegal where he died in 2021 at age 88.