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olympics

IOC rules out action against Salt Lake City officials

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Posted: Wednesday January 13, 1999 03:56 PM

 

LONDON, England (AP) - The IOC has ruled out imposing any sanctions against Salt Lake City officials in connection with the Olympics' biggest corruption scandal, an IOC investigator said Wednesday.

"The commission will not recommend any action against Salt Lake City," said Jacques Rogge, a member of the IOC panel investigating allegations of bribery in the city's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games. "There is no action to be taken."

Rogge, meanwhile, confirmed that up to 12 International Olympic Committee members have been implicated in the inquiry but rejected calls for IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch's resignation as "ridiculous."

He also said the IOC was prepared to investigate charges of corruption in other host city election campaigns, including claims that Sydney officials were approached for bribes during their successful bid for the 2000 Summer Games.

Rogge, a Belgian member of the IOC's executive board, said the six-man investigative panel had considered sanctions against Salt Lake officials connected with the 2002 bid.

But he said the possibility was ruled out after the Salt Lake organizing committee's two top officials, president Frank Joklik and vice president Dave Johnson, resigned last week.

"The people who were in the bid are no more," Rogge told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "They took the actions they thought were needed."

The head of the bid committee, Tom Welch, is also no longer associated with the games. He resigned as president of the organizing committee last year after being charged with spouse abuse.

"The only action we cold have discussed was against the people in the bid committee who were still on the organizing committee," Rogge said. "As they have resigned, there is definitely no need for action. This does not imply any judgment on their behavior at this stage."

Rogge said he understood that "around a dozen" IOC members had been implicated in the Salt Lake investigation. Letters were sent to those members this week demanding an explanation.

The IOC panel meets Jan. 23 in Lausanne, Switzerland, to conclude its findings, and will make recommendations to the full executive board the following day.

Samaranch has said that any members found guilty of corruption will be ousted.

Rogge said the board itself can not expel members and can only recommend expulsion to the full OC assembly, which next meets in June. But he said members would be free to resign before that.

Rogge said the executive board could also recommend sanctions short of expulsion, such as censure or fines.

"Everything is open," he said. "I rule out nothing."

While the executive board will propose possible changes in the selection process for host cities, any decision will need approval of the full IOC, he said. Samaranch has proposed stripping the assembly of the vote and leaving the decision to the executive board or other small group.

However, Rogge said the board itself can take "provisional measures," such as banning visits of IOC members to the six cities bidding for the 2006 Winter Olympics. Those games will be awarded next June.

In another development, Rogge said the IOC was prepared to look into allegations leveled by an Australian official that he was approached for bribes during Sydney's 2000 bid.

Bruce Baird, a former New South Wales state Olympics minister who was on Sydney's bid committee, claimed that one IOC member and an intermediary made approaches seeking cash in exchange for votes.

Baird said one approach had come from someone claiming to represent African delegates.

Baird said he had provided several pages of information to Kevan Gosper, an Australian member of the IOC executive board. Gosper said he would bring it to the rest of the board's attention.

Rogge, who is chairman of the IOC's oversight commission for the Sydney Games, said the IOC would welcome any concrete evidence that Baird or others have to offer.

"We have a mandate to look into any possible form of corruption," he said. "It is not limited to Salt Lake City. What we need is documented evidence, declarations, recollections. If someone says, 'I have to spoken to so-and-so,' this is not grounds for bringing charges against people. This is a trial. You need evidence. Without evidence, we can't do anything."

Baird urged Samaranch to resign in connection with the Olympic scandals. Others who have done so include Ken Bullock, a member of Salt Lake's organizing committee, and Robert Helmick, a former U.S. member of the IOC who resigned in an ethics scandal in 1991.

Rogge insisted there was no reason for Samaranch to step down.

"Samaranch is not voting and he is not a corrupt man, absolutely not," he said. "Why should someone resign at a moment of crisis? We need leadership. We do not need resignations. ... It would be ridiculous. The leader of the Olympic movement has the responsibility to solve the problem, not to go away."

 
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