IOC Is Seeking Explanations
LONDON (AP) _ The International Olympic Committee is seeking explanations from more members implicated in the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, an IOC investigator said Monday.
Jacques Rogge, a member of the six-man IOC inquiry commission, said the panel held a conference call over the weekend to review the report issued last week by the independent Salt Lake ethics board.
The report detailed how IOC members received more than $1 million in cash, scholarships for their families, medical treatment and other favors during Salt Lake’s successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
Rogge said letters will ask members to reply by the last week of February. The commission then will meet in late February or early March and make recommendations to the executive board, which can order further expulsions.
Any expulsions would then go before the full general assembly at the March 17-18 emergency session dealing with the worst corruption crisis in Olympic history.
The Salt Lake report implicated 24 IOC members _ a fifth of the total roster _ for receiving improper or questionable benefits. The report cited 10 names that were not included in the list of 14 implicated earlier during the IOC’s internal investigation.
After the IOC panel sent letters demanding explanations from 13 members (one, Cameroon’s Rene Essomba, had died), nine members either resigned or were ousted by the executive board. Three others remain under investigation, while one received a warning.
Rogge said the IOC panel, headed by vice president Dick Pound, would follow the same procedure in dealing with new names and evidence contained in the Salt Lake report.
``Everyone mentioned in the ethics report, except those who have already resigned, will receive a letter asking for a reply,″ he said in a telephone interview from Belgium. ``They have the right to respond in writing or to appear before the commission in person.″
All members implicated in the IOC’s original investigation were mentioned in the Salt Lake report. Those who have since resigned are David Sibandze (Swaziland), Pirjo Haeggman (Finland), Mohamed Bashir Attarabulsi (Libya) and Charles Mukora (Kenya).
Those already investigated by the IOC will receive second letters if there is new evidence in the Salt Lake report. That list includes the highest-ranking official implicated, South Korean executive board member Kim Un-yong, who remained under investigation in the initial part of the inquiry.
Pound said last week the commission would examine new material about Kim, including allegations that his son got a telecommunications job directly funded by the Salt Lake bid committee.
Kim has claimed that the report exonerated him and his son of any wrongdoing, and has written a letter to IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch and members of the inquiry panel urging them to dismiss the ``scandalous allegations.″
Members cited for the first time in the Salt Lake report were Maj. Gen. Henry E. Olufemi Adefope (Nigeria), Phil Coles (Australia), Willi Kaltschmitt (Guatemala), Ashwini Kumar (India), Shagdarjav Magwan (Mongolia), Anani Matthia (Togo), Rampaul Ruhee (Mauritius), Austin Sealy (Barbados), Siuli Paul Wallwork (Western Samoa) and Mohamed Zerguini (Algeria).
IOC officials have said not all of the additional 10 cases are considered serious enough to warrant expulsion.
Previously ordered expelled were Agustin Arroyo (Ecuador), Jean-Claude Ganga (Republic of Congo), Zein El Abdin Ahmed Abel Gadir (Sudan), Lamine Keita (Mali) and Sergio Santander (Chile).
The new letters go out at a time when restless corporate Olympic sponsors are demanding the IOC carry through with decisive action to deal with the crisis or face a rebellion.
Michael Payne, the IOC marketing director who felt the wrath of sponsors at a meeting in New York last Friday, said the IOC was aware of the concerns.
``The sponsors are saying, `Are you sure you really will deliver the cleaning of the house, and the reforms, in March? If this drags on beyond March, it impacts on our marketing programs. If we miss that March window, it’s a big problem,‴ Payne said.
``We’re telling the sponsors that cleaning the house is the first step. That’s the line in the sand. Clearly there are things that are broken and need to be fixed. This is an opportunity to make changes. The IOC has the resolve to go all the way.″
But Payne said there was no need for an overnight ``revolution.″
``Forgotten in all this process is the games per se are healthier than they’ve ever been,″ he said in a phone interview from Lausanne, Switzerland. ``That’s not totally by accident. You have to be careful not to change something which has served you under very good stead for 100 years just because someone is demanding change.″
The sponsors have been critical of the IOC leadership, while stopping short of calling for Samaranch’s resignation.
``They have understood that, for the time being, while pushing through expulsions and reforms, it would not be helpful to have a presidential election,″ Payne said. ``It would destabilize the situation. I think that’s understood by all of those who closely follow the Olympic movement.″