LONDON, December 16- Four senior athletics officials were due to appear before the IAAF’s ethics commission in London on Wednesday accused of covering up doping offences.
The four officials, none of whom are expected to attend the private three-day hearing, include former IAAF consultant Papa Massata Diack, the son of the organisation’s former president Lamine Diack.
The others are ex-IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle, former Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) president and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev and the ARAF’s former long-distance athletics coach Alexei Melnikov.
The four men are charged with breaching the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) code of ethics and could face lifetime bans. A decision is expected in early January.
The hearing takes place against the backdrop of a French probe into allegations that high-ranking IAAF officials received bribes in return for concealing positive drugs tests by athletes.
Lamine Diack is accused of receiving over one million euros ($1.1 million) in bribes, while Pape Massata Diack, Dolle and Balakhnichev are also under investigation.
The charges stem from claims by Russian runner turned whistle-blower Liliya Shobukhova, a former London marathon winner, that she paid around $600,000 for doping violations to be covered up.
Shobukhova had a 38-month suspension reduced by seven months after she agreed to testify to the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA).
The ethics commission panel will be chaired by Michael Beloff QC, a leading English barrister.
“A hearing has been fixed to take place in London over 16-18 December 2015, to consider the cases against them, including their defences and evidence to be provided by or on their behalf,” Beloff said in a statement last month.
“In accordance with the rules of the ethics commission the hearing will be held in private.”
The IAAF, world athletics’ governing body, has banned Russia from international competition after a report by WADA’s independent commission found evidence of “state-sponsored doping”.