The former head of the International Association Of Athletics Federation Lamine Diack has told a French court he slowed the handling of Russian doping cases between 2011-2013 “for the financial health” of the organisation.
Diack (86), is facing corruption and money-laundering charges linked to the Russian doping scandal and is accused of taking payments up to about 3m euros to cover up the cheating.
“We were going through a difficult moment financially,” he said.
“My duty was to make sure the IAAF got out of it.
Who took the decision to spread out the [sanction procedures]? It was me,” Diack told the court’s three judges.
“It was mainly for the financial health of the IAAF. The financial health of the IAAF had to be safeguarded and I was prepared to make that compromise.”
The Senegalese said his aim was to prevent the doping cases derailing talks with prospective Russian sponsors.
Diack told the court a Russian bank renewed its sponsorship contract worth $32m (£25,4m) in February 2013.
Prosecutors say Diack solicited bribes totalling 3.45m euros ($3.9m, £3.1m) from athletes suspected of doping to cover up test results and let them continue competing.
Altough Diack denies any wrong doing, money laundering and breach of trust but if found guilty could face up to 10 years in jail.