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IOC Member Details Bribery

From Staff and Wire Reports

A day after top officials of the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City were questioned about bribery charges during an International Olympic Committee meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, one of the IOC’s senior leaders came forward with startling bribery charges.

Switzerland’s Marc Hodler, a longtime member of the organization’s ruling inner circle and close confidant of IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, detailed what he described as the systematic buying and selling of the Olympic Games.

“To my knowledge, there has always, always, been a certain part of the vote given to corruption,” he said, setting off the biggest ethics scandal in the history of the 104-year-old organization.

Hodler cited a pattern of bribery and other ethical malpractice in the bidding and selection of at least four Olympic host cities--Atlanta; Nagano, Japan; Sydney, Australia; and Salt Lake City.

He cited bribes of as much as $1 million.

Hodler, a Swiss lawyer who recently turned 80, has been on the IOC since 1963. Earlier this year, Hodler stepped down after 47 years as president of the International Ski Federation.

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Hodler said he chose to go public with his corruption allegations because he hopes they lead to a radical reform of the Olympic selection process.

As for the Salt Lake City situation, Hodler used the word “bribe” to describe a scholarship fund set up by Salt Lake that benefited the relatives of six IOC members. A high-level IOC panel is investigating the charges, and Salt Lake officials scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday to discuss the matter.

Asked specifically whether Atlanta’s victory in the vote for the 1996 Summer Games was clean, Hodler said, “Certainly not.”

John Krimsky, deputy secretary general of the U.S. Olympic Committee, said, “There is no basis for the charges against Atlanta at this point. All these issues should be put to the IOC review commission.”

Billy Payne, head of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, said: “No payments, direct or indirect. No scholarships, direct or indirect. . . . I have never heard of that and will state positively, unequivocally Atlanta did not do that.”

Hodler’s principal allegation was that a network of four “agents"--including one IOC member-- has been seeking bribes to secure votes for Olympic bids.

“The four agents try to make a living out of this,” Hodler said. “I missed a chance to be a rich man. Some of the agents do the following: They say, ‘I can offer this or that number of votes.’ The price would be between $500,000 and $1 million for a bloc of votes.”

Hodler said the agents then charge the city winning the bid “something like $3 million to $5 million.”

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The IOC turned down a bid from American and British swimmers that sought to force East Germans found to have taken performance-enhancing drugs to give up their Olympic medals.

The U.S. Olympic Committee was seeking “appropriate medal recognition” for swimmers Linda Jezek, Lauri Siering, Camile Wright and Shirley Babashoff, who lost out to the East Germans in the women’s medley relay at Montreal in 1976.

Pro Basketball

After lasting less than 30 minutes, NBA labor talks in New York ended abruptly, a sign that the season could be in jeopardy more than ever. And it now appears certain that a season--if there is one--won’t begin until the end of January or early February.

Commissioner David Stern, deputy commissioner Russ Granik and their lawyers emerged dour-faced from the union’s law office after the meeting, one of the shortest since the lockout began 5 1/2 months ago.

“We’re getting nowhere,” Granik said. “We learned today that basically nothing has changed at all.”

In an American Basketball League game, player-Coach Tonya Edwards scored 11 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter to rally the Columbus Quest to a 46-43 victory over the Colorado Xplosion before 2,067 at Columbus, Ohio.

Winter Sports

Michelle Kwan and Russia’s Alexi Yagudin, the 1998 world champions on the Olympic-eligible level, added the World Professional Figure Skating Championships title at Washington. Kwan did it a bit more emphatically, with five perfect marks.

Downhill skier Lasse Kjus of Norway got his first World Cup victory in nearly two years by winning at Val D’Isere, France. Italians Luca Cattaneo and Erik Seletto were second and third. . . . American lugers Christian Niccum and Matt McClain finished first and Mark Grimmette and Brian Martin took second at Sigulda, Latvia, in a repeat of their performance in the opening World Cup race at Igls, Austria.

Boxing

Germany’s Dariusz Michalczewski retained his World Boxing Organization light-heavyweight title at Frankfurt, Germany, with a ninth-round combination that sent American Drake Thadzi staggering across the ring. On the undercard, unbeaten Cuban fighter Juan Carlos Gomez (26-0) retained his World Boxing Council cruiserweight title by knocking out Rodney Gordon in the second round.


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