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A report blasts former USOC head Robert Helmick
On Sunday, U.S. Olympic Committee special counsel Arnold Burns released his report on the conduct of former USOC president Robert Helmick, who resigned Sept. 18 following a spate of conflict-of-interest disclosures. The report was nothing less than scathing. "Helmick repeatedly violated the conflict of interest provisions of the USOC Bylaws," wrote Burns. The report criticized Helmick for "using USOC authority and influence for his own private benefit," for "failing to exhibit loyalty and candor in the performance of his duties" and for "failing to subordinate at all times his individual interests to the interests of the Olympic Movement."
In addition to assailing Helmick for previously reported improper business dealings with three USOC clients (SI, Sept. 16), Burns's investigation unveiled a new transgression. On April 12, 1991, Impel Marketing, a trading-card company, signed a licensing agreement with the committee to produce a series of cards featuring Olympic athletes. On the next business day Impel put Helmick, who is a lawyer based in Des Moines, on retainer for $50,000. Helmick signed the Impel agreement on behalf of the USOC on or about June 2, "giving rise to the strong suggestion of a quid pro quo," wrote Burns. "We believe that it was patently improper for Mr. Helmick to accept employment from Impel."
Burns's report, which began by noting that there was no evidence that Helmick had tried to influence other USOC officials in matters involving his private clients, concluded this way: "We believe...that Mr. Helmick has underestimated the seriousness of his conduct."
And that continues to be the case. After the report was released, Helmick insisted that "taken as a whole, the report completely exonerates me." Perhaps he meant "excoriates."
Despite the report, Helmick continues to be one of 18 voting members of the USOC's powerful Executive Committee. He also remains the only U.S. member of the Executive Committee of the IOC, which will discuss his business dealings at its next meeting, on Dec. 4, in Lausanne, Switzerland. For the good of the Olympic movement, Helmick, who so far has said he has no intention of resigning either his USOC or IOC position, should be removed from both.
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