At the time, Niang did not respond to a series of questions sent to FIBA, seeking his response. But he told The Times in an email that he “never had knowledge” of accusations of sexual abuse described in the article.
A subsequent investigation conducted by FIBA’s integrity officer, the Canadian lawyer Richard H. McLaren, and published Tuesday in a 149-page report, said it found that institutional abuse persists in Mali. But the investigation found “no direct evidence from anyone about President Niang’s knowledge of sexual harassment.”
Niang issued a statement on Tuesday saying, “This investigation is of paramount importance and I would like to express my personal and unconditional support to the victims. These offences must be duly prosecuted by FIBA through independent procedures. Since the Integrity Officer has confirmed my innocence, I will now resume my official duties with FIBA.”
Two players who were teenagers at the time, speaking anonymously, told The Times that Niang was present at a nightclub in Mali’s capital for a victory celebration in 2006 or 2007 when his close friend, a coach named Cheick Oumar Sissoko, known as Yankee, groped their breasts and buttocks as they danced with them. The players told The Times that instead of intervening, Niang watched and laughed along.
Another former player, Aissata Tina Djibo, now 31, said Sissoko repeatedly made lewd sexual remarks that Niang ignored at practices. Sissoko also sometimes had sex with players who relented because they were afraid to lose their place in the youth national team, she said.