Windhoek-Despite screaming headlines and all the hullabaloo by the international media, Namibia’s sprint legend Frank Fredericks remains calm and unfazed, saying as far as his success and wealth are concerned he has nothing to hide as his hands are clean.
The sprinting great was recently implicated in a serious bribe scandal after allegations surfaced that he was paid about $300,000 (almost N$4 million) by Papa Massata Diack, the disgraced son of former IAAF president and IOC member Lamine Diack, on the same day Rio was awarded the 2016 Olympics – in a vote for which Fredericks was a scrutineer.
Fredericks, Namibia’s only two-time Olympics silver medallist and one of the most senior figures at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), was alleged to have received the money from Papa Massata Diack on October 2, 2009.
According to the French daily broadsheet Le Monde, the money was paid to Fredericks through Diack’s company Pamodzi Sports Consulting, to a firm set up by Fredericks, called Yemi Limited, in the offshore tax haven of the Seychelles.
Since the damning revelations surfaced, Fredericks voluntarily – without handing himself over to the authorities as earlier reported by the foreign media – issued a communiqué to both the IAAF and IOC commissions assuring them that he would grant them his full cooperation and whatever support they might need during the investigation in order to speed up the process and prove his innocence.
“The articles published insinuate that I could have been involved in alleged manipulation of the vote for the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games. I categorically deny any direct or indirect involvement in any untoward conduct and confirm that I have never breached any law, regulation or rule of ethics in respect of any IOC election process. The articles do not only target me, they target the integrity of the IOC bidding and election process for host cities altogether,” said Fredericks in the statement issued yesterday.
He further clarified: “This is why I have been and am still actively cooperating with the IOC Ethics Commission in order for them to conduct a proper and independent investigation. Contrary to reports that I handed myself over to the IOC Ethics Commission, it is not true and it gives the wrong impression. The fact is that I voluntarily engaged the IOC Commission to assure them of my full cooperation to a proper investigation of these reports and then await the outcome of this independent process.”
“It is my highest interest to clear myself of these negative insinuations as soon as possible in order to prevent any further damage to my reputation. I reiterate that I was never involved with any vote manipulation or any other inappropriate or illegal practice,” reassured Fredericks.
To affirm his cooperation and make sure the investigation is unhindered and that he has no internal influence over the process, Fredericks also took a personal decision to step down as head of the IAAF Task Force, which is responsible for coordinating the re-admittance of the suspended Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), and will be replaced by IAAF Athletes Commission chairperson Rozle Prezelj.
Making more room for investigators and further avoiding any conflict of interest, Fredericks also voluntarily stepped downed as chairperson of the 2024 Evaluation Commission, which is currently screening the bids of Paris and Los Angeles to host the 2014 Olympics. He also stepped down as chairperson of the 2018 Youth Olympics Games Committee.
“I’m doing all these because it is essential that the important work my colleagues are doing is seen as being carried out in a truthful and fair manner. Paris and Los Angeles are presenting two fantastic candidatures and I do not wish to become a distraction from this great contest. I will not attend the IOC city meetings in July and will not participate during the vote for the 2024 city. In the interim, I will continue to fully cooperate with the IOC Ethics Commission as I trust that they will act in the best interests of all concerned parties and promptly conclude that the media reports are defamatory in character,” he confidently concluded.