Hearing into corruption allegations against four IAAF officials to begin

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The IAAF's ethics commission will begin a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday into the cases of four senior athletics officials alleged to have covered up doping offences.

The three-day hearing is taking place in London, although none of the four officials are expected to attend. They are Papa Massata Diack, the son of the former president of world athletics' governing body, Lamine Diack, who worked as a consultant for the organisation, former IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle, former Russian federation president and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev and the Russian federation's former chief coach for long-distance athletes Alexei Melnikov.

All four are charged with various breaches of the IAAF's code of ethics and could face lifetime bans.

The ethics hearings take place against a background of investigations by the French police into allegations that senior IAAF officials took bribes to cover up drugs tests. Lamine Diack is under investigation suspected of receiving more than one million euors, while his son, Dolle and Balakhnichev are also being investigated.

The charges involve Russian runner Liliya Shobukhova, the former London marathon winner who turned whistleblower for the World Anti-Doping Agency earlier this year, and money she paid to have her doping violations covered up.

According to testimony she has given, Shobukhova paid more than 600,000 US dollars for violations to be covered up so that she was not suspended.

The panel will be made up of ethics commission chairman Michael Beloff QC, Thomas H Murray, an American who is President Emeritus of the renowned research institution the Hastings Centre, and Japan's Akira Kawamura, a former president of the International Bar Association.

A statement from Beloff last month said: "A hearing has been fixed to take place in London over 16-18 December 2015, to consider the cases against them, including their defences and evidence to be provided by or on their behalf. In accordance with the rules of the ethics commission the hearing will be held in private."

It is thought that a decision will be announced in early January.

The IAAF has banned Russia from international competition after a report by the World Anti Doping Agency's independent commission, headed by Dick Pound, who is due to release the second part of his findings on January 14.

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