Former world sprint champion Frankie Fredericks was on Tuesday suspended by the International Olympic Committee in the wake of corruption charges brought against him by French authorities.
The IOC Ethics Commission, while stressing the ‘importance of respecting the principle of the presumption of innocence’, recommended suspending the Namibian four-time Olympic silver medallist because of “the impact on the reputation of the IOC”.
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The IOC’s executive board duly added: “Considering the gravity and urgency of the situation and its impact on the reputation of the IOC, the IOC EB decides to suspend Mr Frank Fredericks from all the rights, prerogatives and functions deriving from his quality as an IOC Member.”
Fredericks, who denies any “involvement in untoward conduct”, is being investigated by French authorities over a $299,300 (262,000 euros) payment he received from Papa Massata Diack, son of ex-International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Lamine Diack, on October 2, 2009 – the day Rio won the bid.
Fredericks appeared before a Paris judge last Thursday.
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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 investigation centres to a large extent around the activities of Papa Massata Diack, who along with Lamine Diack also faces charges in France over millions of dollars paid to cover up doping failures by Russian athletes.
Fredericks insists that the payments, first revealed by France's Le Monde newspaper in March, 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.
Following the corruption allegations, 50-year-old Fredericks stepped down as head of the IOC committee evaluating bids to host the 2024 Olympics.
The IAAF provisionally suspended Fredericks from its ruling council on July 17 as it launched a probe into the corruption allegations against him.