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African IOC member denies wrongdoing
Ganga says profitable real estate deal in Utah was 'normal'
Posted: Wednesday January 13, 1999 10:12 AM
PARIS (AP) -- Jean-Claude Ganga, the senior African Olympic official implicated in the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, has denied any wrongdoing.
Ganga, an International Olympic Committee member from the Republic of Congo and head of the association of African national Olympic Committees, defended his actions in a weekend interview with French radio.
"I have done nothing wrong," he said. "I will not become rich because I voted for Salt Lake City. That is why I am so serene."
Ganga said Salt Lake City did not secure the 2002 Winter Games by bribery but "because they were the best."
The Associated Press reported last week that Ganga made a $60,000 profit on a Utah property deal arranged through the Salt Lake bid committee which won the right to stage the 2002 Winter Games.
Ganga purchased the three residential lots in September 1995, three months after the IOC awarded the games to Salt Lake.
Ganga's purchase and sale of the properties is being investigated by a Salt Lake Olympic Committee ethics panel looking into allegations that IOC votes were bought during the bid.
In the intrview with Radio France Internationale, Ganga described the real estate deal as "normal" and said it "happened a long time after the vote. Therefore, it couldn't have influenced me."
Tom Welch, the president of the Salt Lake bid committee, has admitted arranging free health care for Ganga and his mother.
Asked about the medical care, Ganga said, "I asked to pay but there was an arrangement between the hospital [in Salt Lake City] and the organizing committee."
Welch has also admitted giving $50,000 in cash to Ganga. Welch said Ganga sought the money to help children in the African nation ravaged by civil strife
Ganga did not coment on the cash payments in the interview.
The African official is among the IOC members believed to be under scrutiny by an IOC commission investigating allegations of impropriety during the Salt Lake bid.
IOC vice president Dick Pound, who is heading the inquiry, said this weekend he has identified all the members he wants to question in the probe. He said letters would be sent to those members this week demanding an explanation.
IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch has said that any IOC members found guilty of corruption would be expelled or asked to resign.
Ganga said he would have "something [Monday]" on rules governing IOC operations, "but I prefer to reserve my comments for the investigating commission.There are certainly other larger and more important issues than these little questions about a real estate contract."
Ganga also said he was "saddened by the fact that only Africans are being accused" in the Salt Lake affair.
While other Africans may be implicated, Pound's inquiry is also expected to identify improper behavior by members from other regions as well.
Frank Joklik and Dave Johnson, the top two officials in Salt Lake's organizing committee, resigned Friday in connection with the widening scandal.
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