Former Olympic sprint star Frankie Fredericks has been provisionally suspended from athletics pending an investigation into alleged corruption.
The sport’s world governing body the IAAF has announced that the 49-year-old Namibian, who won four Olympic silver medals and a world 200metres title in the 1990s, is being investigated by the athletics integrity unit (AIU) over payments he received from Papa Massata Diack, the son of the ex-IAAF president Lamine Diack.
In a statement, the AIU said: “The order for provisional suspension does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation which the athletics integrity unit is carrying out.
“Mr Fredericks enjoys the presumption of innocence until the conclusion of that investigative process and any disciplinary process which may follow depending on the results of the investigation.”
The investigation will be led by former English Court of Appeal judge Anthony Hooper.
Fredericks, a member of the IAAF council and a prominent figure within the International Olympic Committee (IOC), has claimed the money was a legitimate payment for consultancy work he had done for the IAAF.
But in March, French newspaper Le Monde reported that this money initially came from a wealthy Brazilian businessman and the payments to Papa Massata Diack were made days before the 2009 vote to decide the host of the 2016 Olympics, a vote Rio won.
Le Monde claimed its report was based on information received from the wide-ranging French criminal investigation into the Diack family and their associates, and this money was intended to influence IOC voters.
Fredericks has strongly denied any wrongdoing but was forced to stand down as the head of the IOC’s evaluation commission for the 2024 Olympics, which meant he was unable to lead May’s final visits to bidding cities Los Angeles and Paris. He is currently the subject of a parallel investigation by the IOC.
He also quit an IAAF task force that is overseeing Russia’s return to international competition following its well-documented doping issues.
Despite Fredericks’ decision to voluntarily stand down from these roles, the AIU said the allegation was sufficiently “serious” that it needs “careful investigation” and therefore a provisional ban was in “the interests of the sport”.
Fredericks, however, has told the AIU he will appeal against his suspension and that application will be heard by an IAAF disciplinary tribunal.