Duncan Mackay ©ITG

News earlier this week that authorities in France had issued an arrest warrant for two Russian officials in connection with their investigation into former International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President and leading International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Lamine Diack seemed to indicate we are entering the end game of a case that started more than three-and-a-half years ago. 

The warrants for Valentin Balakhnichev, former President of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) and treasurer of the IAAF, and Alexei Melnikov. ex-senior coach of Russia's team, were raised more in hope than expectation, it appears. 

The chances of Balakhnichev or Melnikov travelling anywhere that France has jurisdiction over so the warrants can be acted upon are remote.

It is a similar situation to the arrest warrant issued in December 2015 for Papa Massata Diack, son of Lamine, who has been on Interpol's most wanted list since it was issued but is not believed to have left his home in Senegal since. 

Papa Massata Diack has become an almost mythical figure in the period since his father was arrested in Paris in November 2015, linked to a scheme to cover up doping cases involving Russian athletes in return for money, broadcasting and sponsorship contracts.  

His name is associated with almost every corruption case involving the IOC, such was the influence he appeared to have held over the organisation. 

Earlier on the same day it was revealed a prosecutor in Paris had issued the warrants for Balakhnichev and Melnikov, Tsunekazu Takeda had announced his resignation from the IOC and as President of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC), 

Last December, Takeda had been indicted by French authorities on suspicion he had authorised the payment of bribes in order to help Japan's capital win its bid for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

It concerned payments worth $2 million (£1.5 million/€1.75 million) made to Black Tidings, a company in Singapore with links to Papa Massata.

Papa Massata Diack is linked to almost all the current IOC corruption scandals but has so far evaded the French authorities because he refuses to leave Senegal ©Getty Images
Papa Massata Diack is linked to almost all the current IOC corruption scandals but has so far evaded the French authorities because he refuses to leave Senegal ©Getty Images

The Diacks are suspected of having corrupted the bid process for three consecutive Olympic Games. 

They have also been charged in a $2 million scheme involving Brazilian Olympic Committee President and IOC member Carlos Nuzman to secure African votes for Rio de Janeiro's bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Nuzman was suspended as an honorary IOC member after being charged in October 2017.

Namibia's Frankie Fredericks, meanwhile, has suspended himself after allegedly receiving a $299,300 (£226,578/€264,656) payment from Pamodzi Sports Consulting, a company owned by Papa Massata, on the day Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in October 2009. 

It is also often forgotten that Papa Massata has been implicated in the campaign that saw Pyeongchang awarded the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

He has been accused of compiling a list of IOC members who were likely to support Pyeongchang’s bid to host the Games in exchange for marketing and sponsorship contracts with South Korean multinational conglomerate Samsung.

I recall speaking to Papa Massata at a press event in Monte Carlo in June 2010 where Samsung had been named the new sponsors of the IAAF Diamond League and asking him how the deal had come about. 

"People trust me because they know I can deliver what I promise," Papa Massata told me, which, at the time, did not really make much sense. 

A year later, Pyeongchang was awarded the Winter Olympics at the third attempt following failed bids for 2010 and 2014. 

They beat Munich, led by future IOC President Thomas Bach, and Annecy by a crushing margin. scoring 63 votes to their rivals' 25 and seven. 

It is easy to forget now, his name ruined by these corruption allegations, what a towering figure Lamine Diack was in world sport, particularly the Olympic Movement. 

He had played a leading role in the African boycott of the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal in protest at a New Zealand rugby tour of apartheid South Africa. 

The first black leader of a major international sport at the IAAF, he was a man revered in Africa, giving him huge influence over younger administrators. 

Of course, Papa Massata denies all the sordid allegations about him and his father, claiming they are "the biggest lie in the history of sport". 

Before the current corruption scandal, Lamine Diack was a highly influential and revered IOC member, especially among his African colleagues ©Getty Images
Before the current corruption scandal, Lamine Diack was a highly influential and revered IOC member, especially among his African colleagues ©Getty Images

But it is not just Lamine and Papa Massata Diack's names which have been soiled by these stories of bribery. 

Japanese advertising giant Dentsu has regularly been forced to disassociate itself from allegations it has been involved in corruption cases due to its close links with Papa Massata. 

The Black Tidings account was held by owner Ian Tan Tong Han, who also happened to be a consultant to Athlete Management and Services, a subsidiary of Dentsu Sports that markets commercial rights granted by the IAAF. 

In 2014, in one of his last acts as President of the IAAF, Lamine Diack signed a contract for the world governing body and Dentsu Inc. to extend its commercial partnership until the end of 2029.

The multi-million dollar contract sees the agency continuing as the worldwide commercial partner for the IAAF World Athletics Series. 

The rights include marketing and licensing rights worldwide and media rights worldwide outside of Europe and Africa.

The agency, Japan’s largest advertising and marketing company which operates from a 48-storey building in the centre of Tokyo, denies suggestions it has been involved in facilitating any illegal payment between Tokyo 2020 and the Diacks. 

In a 50-page report by the Japanese Olympic Committee investigating the bid and the alleged illegal payment published last year, it claimed Black Tiding had been chosen after advice from Dentsu because they decided "that Tan was an extremely competent Asian consultant". 

Dentsu admit they were consulted by Tokyo 2020 but did not do anything unethical. 

Earlier this year, a spokesman for the company told insidethegames that "a number of consulting companies made pitches to the [Tokyo 2020] Bidding Committee after which the Committee contacted Dentsu for any information we might have on those consultancies and we told the committee the extent of our knowledge of those consultancies".

The extent of the friendship between Tan and Diack junior is perhaps reflected by the fact that when his son was born in 2014, he was named Massata.

Tan has since spent a week in jail after Singapore authorities found him guilty of lying to them about his relationship with Papa Massata. 

He reportedly told the court that Diack told him to give a "fake story" if ever questioned on the matter of the money Black Tidings received from Tokyo 2020. 

Dentsu have been forced to deny they have done anything wrong after being linked with allegations they were involved in the relationship between Tokyo 2020 and Singapore-based Black Tidings ©Getty Images
Dentsu have been forced to deny they have done anything wrong after being linked with allegations they were involved in the relationship between Tokyo 2020 and Singapore-based Black Tidings ©Getty Images

The Black Tidings account, meanwhile, first opened in 2006 was closed down in 2014 soon after the Japanese capital won its bid to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. 

Shortly before it was shut, a payment of €300,000 (£260,000/$340,000) was transferred from Black Tidings account as a "refund" to Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova, who had been told to pay that amount to cover up a positive drug test in 2011, only to be subsequently banned, leading to her being stripped of her victories in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Chicago Marathon victories, as well as at the 2010 London Marathon. 

While Black Tidings was terminated in 2014, a search of Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) records in Singapore found that Tan also owns two other companies. 

One of them, The Sporting Age, was described in the McLaren Report as a firm based in Senegal.

It seems, that whichever way you turn in this IOC corruption crisis, all roads lead to Senegal. 

Papa Massata Diack, though, appears to be protected by the Senegalese Government – which makes the IOC decision to award Dakar the 2022 Summer Youth Olympic Games all the stranger – making sure he remains a fugitive from justice. 

Until the man at the centre of this spider's web of corruption is arrested and put in the dock, the fear is that we will never really find out the true extent of this terrible scandal.