Athletics Namibia stands by Frankie Fredericks

By Timo Shihepo

Windhoek – Athletics Namibia president, Erwin Naimhwaka, has said the association is standing by Namibia’s four-time Olympic silver medallist Frankie Fredericks who has been charged with money laundering and corruption by the French authorities.

Fredericks is accused of receiving a bribe of R4.2 million (£299,300) to influence the election process for the host city of the 2016 Olympics.

Fredericks, who was Athletics Namibia’s president from 2009 to 2013, was charged last week.

Naimhwaka said Fredericks has only been charged at the moment but that is basically it and that people must let the justice system run its course.

“Athletics Namibia is an independent body, which Frankie has been part of for many years. It is important to wait and see before we talk about whether this is tarnishing the image of athletics in Namibia. We have to wait for the outcome of the court. I don’t think he is guilty but again we cannot just make assumptions and conclusions based on charges,” he said.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), where Fredericks is highly regarded, last week said they were informed of the decision by the French judge but said right procedures must be followed.

“The chief ethics and compliance officer Paquerette Girard Zappelli will look into the file and report to the ethics commission, which is meeting on Monday (6 November 2017).  Like with any procedure, the right to be heard has to be respected,” an IOC spokesperson said in a statement.

The widely celebrated Namibian icon received the R4.2 million from Papa Massata Diack, son of Lamine Diack, the disgraced former president of world athletics’ governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

Diack gave Fredericks the R4.2 million via the former’s company, Pamodzi Sports Consulting, to a firm set up by the latter, Yemi Limited, in the offshore tax haven of the Seychelles.

The amount was paid on 2 Fredericks October 2009 three days before the vote process, which was won by Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

Fredericks admitted to receiving money from Diack but categorically denied that the payment had to do with the Olympic Games.

Fredericks, who remains the only Namibian to win a medal at the Olympics, said the amount of R4.2 million paid by Pamodzi Sports Consulting to Yemi Limited was paid in accordance to the terms of a contract dated 11 March 2007.

The 49 – year-old earlier this year said he was planning to develop relay championships. In addition, he said he supported the IAAF Marketing Programme, the African Athletics Programme, the IAAF Continental Programme and the African Athletics Championships.

He added that his attendance at various events and promotional efforts are documented and accordingly these services can be substantiated by other evidence. Payment was in respect of services rendered in the period 2007 to 2011.

“The payment has nothing whatsoever to do with the Olympic Games. By the way, I was not an IAAF board member at the time, but an IAAF ambassador, and did not breach any regulation or rule of ethics,” Fredericks told Le Monde earlier in March.

 

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