- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"We see our report as a beginning, not an end to this issue," Pound said last Thursday, announcing that his panel would broaden its probe to look into all bids up to and including those for the 2006 Winter Games, which will be voted on at a June IOC meeting in Seoul. "We will do whatever it takes to put our house in order."
The wisest course of action might be to burn the house down and start over. Through the years, as rumors of under-the-table deals involving its members circulated, IOC higher-ups seemed notably uninterested, preferring to pontificate against cheating by athletes. At best the IOC has followed a don't-ask, don't-tell approach. At worst it is guilty of top-to-bottom corruption.
Last week new allegations of bribes and improper solicitations emanated from all corners of the globe. In Ostersund, Sweden, which lost out to Salt Lake City, bid committee officials said one IOC member was lent a Saab so he could visit Östersund's crosscountry venue and balked at returning the keys, assuming the car was a gift. Another asked for a Volvo.
A source close to the Paris committee that lost to Barcelona in the 1992 Summer Games bidding (box, opposite page) told SI that IOC member Ashwini Kumar of India asked for—and got—a free tour of Loire Valley castles for himself and his daughters. The source said IOC member Lamine Keita of Mali, one of those recommended for expulsion, requested and received use of a large apartment in Paris, where he spent six weeks, treating it so abominably it had to be renovated.
Nor is Sydney, site of the next Olympics, the 2000 Summer Games, free of the spreading taint. Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates admitted that on the night before the vote on the 2000 Games, he offered $35,000 each to IOC members Charles Mukora of Kenya (one of those recommended for expulsion) and Maj. Gen. Francis Nyangweso of Uganda. The offer was accepted, and though the money was earmarked for sports programs in Kenya and Uganda, the underlying purpose of the gifts, said Coates, was to "encourage [Mukora and Nyangweso] to consider their votes for Sydney." His timing was exemplary. The next day Sydney beat Beijing by two votes.
Sources close to the Berlin group that bid on the 2000 Summer Games told SI that during the bid process, the Berlin committee sent two $6,000 plane tickets to Seiuli Paul Wallwork, an IOC member from Samoa, for him and his brother to travel to London. The brother didn't go, and the extra ticket was never returned. The sources also said arrangements were made for Kim's pianist daughter to rehearse with the Berlin Philharmonic. The daughter, a musician of modest attainments, performed with the Melbourne Symphony in 1990 when that city was in the running for the '96 Games (and with the Utah Symphony in '95). According to Shane Maloney of the Melbourne committee, six African delegates asked his group for new cars and the services of prostitutes in exchange for their votes, a request he says was refused.
One agent told the bid committee from Sion, Switzerland (the favorite to host the 2006 Winter Games), that he could deliver 25 votes for $2 million, according to The Wall Street Journal. Nagano? Services of geishas, stays at hot-springs resorts and helicopter tours have all been reported as items in its bid committee's S9.6 million promotion budget, though the exact gifts and expenditures may never be known. Sumikazu Yamaguchi, vice secretary general of the bid committee, ordered bid records destroyed in 1992.
Former U.S. Olympic Committee president and IOC member Robert Helmick, a Des Moines lawyer who in 1991 resigned from both positions after he was accused of conflicts of interest for his involvement with various sports-related businesses (the USOC later cleared Helmick), remembers shopping sprees in which bid cities bought IOC members' wives fur coats and jewelry worth as much as $8,000—far in excess of the gift limit of $150 established in 1986. "Each bid city is expected to provide each IOC member and his wife free first-class tickets," says Helmick. "Then when you get to the city, you're treated like royalty, with limousines, wining and dining, a hotel suite. My wife would be afraid to go out on shopping trips. She found if she said she liked something, the next day it would show up in her room. Pearl brooches, five-ring pendants. And nothing is done to discourage it. You start thinking you deserve this. What you have is a group of good people caught up in a system that has become corrupt."
But Helmick sees even greater potential for graft in the construction of Olympic facilities, the selling of corporate sponsorships and the like. "The press is focusing on the bid cities," he says. "The bigger scandal is the huge contracts that are available. Offers of consulting fees, offers of contractual opportunities."
Jean-Claude Ganga, a powerful IOC member from the Congo who is another of those that Pound's panel has threatened with expulsion, said essentially the same thing last Friday night while defending himself against corruption charges. The $70,000 from the SLOC that went into his personal bank account? Ganga said this was done "because transfers are practically impossible between Salt Lake and Brazzaville" and that he distributed the funds to three sports federations in the Congo for which the money was intended. His hospital treatment for hepatitis in Salt Lake City? He said he tried to pay the bill but found it had been taken care of by the SLOC. The deal an SLOC official set up in which Ganga purchased three residential properties in a suburb of Ogden, an investment that brought him a $60,000 profit? Ganga said he paid for this out of his personal checking account. "These scholarships and hospital stays, this is only the tree hiding the forest," Ganga says, pointing a finger back at his accusers, specifically Pound, the chief negotiator for the IOC's television commission. "Who signs the contracts for the TV rights? Who signs the contracts for sponsors? That's where you have to look for the people [in the IOC] who make money, not into scholarships and hospital stays. I am a member of the sponsor commission [the Commission of New Sources of Financing, also chaired by Pound], and I never see a television contract or a sponsor contract. I went to complain. I was told to keep quiet. A contract of that kind, $2 billion for TV rights, and only seen by two or three people? Is it right?"