Former IAAF head Diack sentenced to two years

PARIS — Former track federation president Lamine Diack was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for corruption during his nearly 16-year tenure at the IAAF, most notably a scheme that allowed Russian athletes who paid millions in hush money to keep competing when they should have been suspended for doping.

The guilty verdict in a Paris court represented a spectacular fall from grace for the 87-year-old Diack, who was the powerful head of the IAAF from 1999-2015 and mixed with world leaders and was influential in the world of Olympic sports. The court also sentenced Diack to another two years of suspended jail time and fined him 500,000 euros ($590,000).

His lawyers said they will appeal, keeping Diack out of jail for now. Diack did not comment as he walked out of court.

One of Diack’s lawyers, Simon Ndiaye, called the verdict “unjust and inhuman” and said the court made his client a “scapegoat.”

Diack was found guilty of multiple corruption charges and of breach of trust but acquitted of a money laundering charge.

Banged-up 49ers place CB Richard Sherman on IR

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The San Francisco 49ers placed star cornerback Richard Sherman on the injured reserve list Wednesday and also could be without All-Pro tight end George Kittle this week.

Sherman strained his calf late in Sunday’s 24-20 loss to Arizona and was placed on IR when the injury didn’t get better right way. He will have to miss at least three games before he can return but the Niners are hopeful it won’t be a longer-term injury.

Kittle sprained his knee in the same game and won’t take part in a full practice this week. Coach Kyle Shanahan said there’s a possibility Kittle could participate in the lighter Friday practice before the team leaves to play the New York Jets on Sunday.

Shanahan also said Kittle could play even without practicing all week.

Djokovic behaves better in 1st match since Open defaultROME — Novak Djokovic behaved better Wednesday in his first match since being defaulted from the U.S. Open.

The top-ranked Serb was mostly courteous with the chair umpire and had no interaction with the line judges during a 6-3, 6-2 win over local wild-card entry Salvatore Caruso in his opening match at the Italian Open.

Also Wednesday, nine-time Rome champion Rafael Nadal made a solid return to competition after a seven-month absence by beating U.S. Open semifinalist Pablo Carreño Busta 6-1, 6-1.

Djokovic’s performance came in sharp contrast to the scene in New York 10 days ago, when he was disqualified for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball. Djokovic said earlier this week that the incident taught him “a big lesson.”

“I was actually looking forward to (playing again) as soon as possible after what happened in New York,” Djokovic said.

Jeannette Belichick, mother of Patriots’ coach, dies at 98

Jeannette Belichick, the mother of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick, has died. She was 98.

Patriots spokesman Stacey James said Belichick died Monday night of natural causes in Annapolis, Md.

Belichick was preceded in death by her husband, Steve, who died in 2005 at age 86. In addition to their son, Bill, she is survived by three grandchildren: Holy Cross College women’s lacrosse coach Amanda Belichick and Patriots assistants Stephen Belichick and Brian Belichick.

Both Ohio natives, the former Jeannette Munn met Steve Belichick in the 1940s at Hiram College, where she taught French and Spanish and he was a football, basketball and track coach. They were married in 1950 and had their son, Bill, in 1952.

Activists claim French soccer head has ignored racismPARIS — French anti-racism activists criticized the country’s soccer federation president on Wednesday for not taking the sport’s problems seriously enough.

The SOS Racisme campaign group issued a statement asking Noël Le Graët and other French soccer officials “to stop treating questions of racism with such disdain.”

The debate in French soccer flared after Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar claimed he was racially abused by a Marseille player during a heated league game between the traditional rivals Sunday.

Asked about the incident, Le Graët — the French federation president and a European delegate to the ruling committee of world governing body FIFA — said the problem of racism was “at less than one percent now. ”

“When a Black player scores a goal, the whole stadium is on its feet,” Le Graët said.

— The Associated Press

told broadcaster BFM Business. “This phenomenon of racism in sport, and in football in particular, does not exist at all or barely does.”

SOS Racisme said “once again it seems that the governing bodies in football are reluctant to take the problem seriously.”

The activist group later displayed a banner targeting Le Graët outside the Paris headquarters of the French federation.