ATHLETICS: Black Tidings owner admits lying to police on doping cover-up, sentenced to a week in jail

The Straits Times of Singapore reported today (17th) that Tan Tong Han, 36, has been sentenced to a week in jail for lying to authorities over payments made to cover up a Russian doping case.

Han was the owner of Black Tidings, a defunct “consulting” firm which is in the middle of investigations into bribery and extortion involving former IAAF President and IOC member Lamine Diack (SEN) that include the cover-up of Russian doping positives and possible vote-buying in the selection of the host cities for the 2016 (in 2009) and 2020 (in 2013) Olympic Games.

According to the report, Han’s company received $548,000 from Pamodzi Consulting, a firm owned by Papa Massata Diack (SEN), the son of Lamine Diack, supposedly for work done in conjunction with the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing (CHN).

But no work was done and Diack instructed Han to transfer $524,000 to the husband of Liliya Shobukhova, the Russian marathoner who won the 2009-10-11 Chicago Marathons and the 2010 London Marathon, but was disqualified for doping in 2014 (covering all of her races since 2009).

The $524,000, according to prior reporting, was a “refund” of part of the €450,000 (~$636,818 in 2014) the Shobukhovas paid to the Diacks to cover up her doping positives, which unraveled when the Russian Athletics Federation suspended her on 29 April 2014 and nullified all of her results since 2009. Her suspension ended on 23 August 2015.

Tan lied to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau last 20 November, saying that the payment from Papa Massata Diack’s firm was for work done at the 2015 IAAF World Championships.

Black Tidings, which was formed in 2006 and dissolved in 2014, was paid an amount variously reported as $2 million or $2.3 million U.S., in 2013 by the then-Tokyo bid committee trying to land the 2020 Olympic Games. The payments, very close before and after the IOC’s vote on the 2020 host city, is being investigated in France as potential bribes of African IOC members in a vote-buying effort coordinated by Lamine Diack.

The head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Tsunekazu Takeda, has been implicated by the French authorities as approving the Black Tidings contract, which he said on Tuesday was for legitimate consulting work. The Associated Press reported that Takeda’s comments noted that “The [Black Tidings] contract was reviewed and I did make the final signature” and that it was a “regular commercial contract procedure” and that “there were several others who signed off before me.” Takeda added that “As for me, I was not involved in the decision-making process for deciding on [Black Tidings],” and “There was no reason for me to question the process on this consultation deal.”

The Japan Olympic Committee investigated the matter and released a report in 2016, stating that the payments to Black Tidings were legitimate and not bribes. That is getting a second look now in France, in which the Singaporean authorities have said they will cooperate.

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