IOC suspends Frank Fredericks over French corruption charges

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The International Olympic Committee suspended Frank Fredericks as a member on Tuesday, four days after he was charged in a French investigation of suspected bribery in the 2016 Olympic host city vote.

The IOC leadership intervened eight months after the four-time Olympic sprint medallist from Namibia stepped back from his duties when the allegations were reported in French media.

"Considering the gravity and urgency of the situation and its impact on the reputation of the IOC, the IOC (executive board) decides to suspend Mr. Frank Fredericks from all the rights, prerogatives and functions deriving from his quality as an IOC member," the Olympic body said in a statement.

Fredericks was an IOC board member when he accepted a $300,000 payment eight years ago on the day Rio de Janeiro was chosen as the 2016 host.

The money allegedly came from a Brazilian businessman and was paid to Fredericks via the son of Lamine Diack, then a senior IOC member and president of track and field’s governing body. Both Diacks are under investigation by French prosecutors in a wide-ranging corruption case.

On Friday, prosecutors in Paris announced preliminary charges against Fredericks of passive corruption and money laundering.

Fredericks has denied wrongdoing since French daily Le Monde reported the allegation in March, claiming the money was for consultancy work in athletics.

The IOC ethics commission began investigating Fredericks, a rising star in Olympic circles, and examined the latest details on Monday.

"Mr. Fredericks mentioned that he did not wish to make any observations or provide a statement regarding the French proceedings," the IOC ethics commission said in its published advisory ruling.

The ethics panel, which is chaired by former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon, said it did not take a position on "the value of the facts" in the case.

The case cost Fredericks his prestigious role leading an IOC panel overseeing bids by Paris and Los Angeles to host the 2024 Olympics.

He also was provisionally suspended by the IAAF, where he was a member of its ruling committee and on a task force overseeing Russia’s attempt to lift an international ban from the sport because of a doping scandal.

In July, an IAAF integrity panel noted that "Fredericks has not, in the answers and explanations he has provided to date, disturbed the prima facie case of matters warranting investigation."

The French investigation, in co-operation with Brazilian authorities, also implicated Carlos Nuzman, who led the Rio Olympic organizing team. Nuzman was arrested in Brazil last month and then suspended by the IOC as an honorary member.