France's financial prosecutor's office has confirmed that the former head of the international athletics federation had been placed under formal investigation as part of a probe into suspected corruption.

In a statement sent to Reuters, the prosecutor's office said magistrates had placed Lamine Diack, 82-year-old former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), had been placed under formal inquiry along with his legal adviser Habib Cisse.

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A doctor in charge of anti-doping affairs at the IAAF, had been taken into custody too in the inquiry, which was prompted by a complaint from the world anti-doping agency, the statement said. 

The news comes at a time when the image of sport's governing bodies is under serious scrutiny, with the FIFA world football body also mired in a large-scale corruption probe.

According to French news channel iTELE, the investigation is focused on suspicions that payments were made in return for not revealing the doping of Russian athletes.

Diack, a former long jumper who was born in June 1933, headed the athletics body for the best part of a decade from 1999.

Under the French legal system, being placed under official inquiry does not automatically lead to trial but often does.

Source: Reuters