World basketball head Hamane Niang steps aside amid sexual abuse inquiry

MIES, Switzerland -- The president of basketball's world governing body has stepped aside during its investigation into alleged systemic sexual abuse of female players at his home federation.

Hamane Niang "strongly denies the allegations" that he ignored abuse by coaches and officials in Mali when he led the national federation there from 1999 to 2007, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said Monday in a statement.

The New York Times published allegations implicating around 12 coaches and officials in sexual abuse that involved around 100 female players. Niang was not accused of abusing women.

Three men -- coach Amadou Bamba, coach Oumar Sissoko and official Hario Maiga -- have been suspended from all FIBA activities during an investigation ordered by the Switzerland-based governing body.

Niang "offered his full collaboration" to the investigation, said FIBA, which has told officials in Mali also to cooperate.

"FIBA has zero tolerance for all forms of harassment and abuse and extends its heartfelt compassion for victims of such conduct," it said.

The investigation will be done by FIBA integrity officer Richard McLaren, the Canadian law professor who detailed the Russian state-backed doping scandal.

"[McLaren] has confirmed that the report is expected to be delivered soon after the Olympic Games," FIBA said.

The Tokyo Olympics opening July 23 were to be a highlight of Niang's four years as FIBA president, which began in 2019.

FIBA has an elected presidency that is a figurehead compared to the executive role at other sports governing bodies. It rotates among continents which each get a four-year turn.

Niang, 69, is not directly implicated in the sexual abuse allegations which the Times said took place from 1999 to 2011.

Niang was appointed a sports and culture minister in Mali's government from 2007 to '11 after his basketball presidency in the country, according to his biography on FIBA's website.

During Niang's absence, FIBA said, his duties will be taken by first vice-president Sheik Saud Ali Al-Thani of Qatar.