Sports feud reopens as Marius Vizer attacks IAAF head Diack
SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Marius Vizer reopened his feud with world sports leaders on Thursday by launching a personal attack on the president of track and field’s governing body.
Vizer, whose SportAccord organization represents Olympic and non-Olympics federations, suggested IAAF President Lamine Diack’s family had improperly benefited from his role in sport.
“I dedicate and I sacrifice my family for sport, I mean sacrifice in the way of dedication,” Vizer said at a news conference in Sochi. “And in my eyes, (Diack is) a person who sacrifices sport for his family.”
Vizer’s comment was an apparent reference to Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack.
The younger Diack left his role as an IAAF marketing consultant in December pending an investigation into ethics allegations. They include allegations that he requested a payment from Qatar when it was bidding to host the world championships and that he was linked to a payment reportedly made by a Russian athlete to avoid a doping ban.
Vizer’s comments came after the IAAF pulled out of SportAccord in protest over his speech Monday attacking the International Olympic Committee and its president, Thomas Bach.
With Bach in attendance as a guest, Vizer demanded more power for sports federations and branded the IOC system as “expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent.”
That sparked an immediate backlash among many federation leaders. Vizer’s attack on Bach received no support from the head of any major Olympic sport.
The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which represents the 28 sports in the games, suspended its involvement with SportAccord in protest. Four individual federations withdrew or suspended their membership, including Diack’s IAAF.
In response, Vizer on Wednesday apologized for the manner of his attack on Bach and the IOC, but not the content, saying that he had chosen the wrong “way and moment to choose this opportunity” to make the criticism.
Despite that sign of contrition, Vizer — who is also president of the International Judo Federation — suggested Thursday he would not seek to heal relations with those angered by his comments.
“I don’t think that I have to restore something,” he said. “The world of sport has to restore something, not me. What’s happened, it was in my opinion something constructive.”
“For years, we speak about the same things, and one time it happened that somebody had the courage to explain the reality and we have seen the reaction,” Vizer added.