Frankie Fredericks, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and a former Olympic sprinter, was charged by French authorities for passive corruption and money laundering around the decision to award the 2016 Olympics to Rio, a judicial source said.
The Namibian, a four-time Olympic medalist who appeared before a judge in Paris on Thursday, is being investigated for receiving US$299,300 from Papa Massata Diack, son of the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations, who was recently accused of taking payments for votes.
French investigators are studying the possibility that bribes were disbursed over the awarding of the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Frankie denies the accusations
Fredericks, Namibia’s first and so far only Olympic medalist, insists that the payment he received were for promotional services provided between 2007 and 2011 and had nothing to do with the Rio Olympics.
Following the first corruption reports published on March 3, 2017 by French newspaper Le Monde, the 50-year-old Namibian stepped down as head of the IOC committee evaluating bids to host the 2024 Olympics.
He was also part of the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) Council, until he was suspended in July following the bribery accusations.
Fredericks also stepped down from an IAAF task force investigating doping allegations in Russia.
Back in March, the former sprinter released a statement claiming his innocence: “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.”
IOC cooperating with investigators
The IOC said that, in cooperation with the French investigations, its ethics compliance officer would look into the court ruling.
“The CECO (Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer) will look into the file, which is not yet available, and report to the Ethics Commission, which is meeting on Monday.”,' an IOC spokesperson said. 'Like with any procedure the right to be heard has to be respected.'
According to the preliminary charges, there is a strong reason to believe a crime was committed, however, magistrates still require further time to investigate.