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USOC

Controversy Spurs Second Resignation

January 16, 2003|Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writer

Patrick J. Rodgers, the U.S. Olympic Committee's ethics compliance officer, resigned Wednesday, the second high-profile resignation from a USOC position sparked by the policy-making executive committee's decision Monday to take no action against Chief Executive Lloyd Ward in an ethics-related controversy.

"I cannot possibly teach ethics, counsel individuals on ethical behavior or promote a code that is not practiced or enforced by the leadership of the organization," Rodgers said in a telephone interview.

A USOC ethics board report made public Monday said that Ward had "created the appearance of a conflict of interest" after directing USOC staff to make introductions on behalf of Detroit-based Energy Management Technologies to Pan Am organizers in the Dominican Republic, site of the 2003 Games. The company had ties to Ward's brother and a childhood friend. No contract has been signed.

The report, however, recommend no disciplinary action, and the executive committee took none.

Brian Derwin of USA Weightlifting, a former member of the USOC's ethics oversight committee, resigned Monday from the 22-person executive committee and a variety of other USOC positions. He said he believed "there was a clear conflict of interest violation."

In a resignation letter dated Wednesday, Rodgers, 58, the USOC's compliance officer since February 2000, said it was "disheartening" to read in the ethics report that "others, including me, might have precluded Lloyd's actions by 'counseling him on his ethical obligations and restrictions.' "

That "belies credibility," since USOC leadership reviewed and presented the organization's ethics code to the 120-member board of directors for approval just last April, Rodgers said.

He also said, "It is important for leaders to accept responsibility for their actions and set an appropriate example for accountability. In that regard, I should not have agreed to a request by the [ethics] oversight committee chair," meaning Kenneth M. Duberstein, a former White House chief of staff, "to recuse myself from further deliberations after refusing to comply with his advice that I needed, for my own good, 'To find a way to make this go away.' "

Duberstein said, "While I don't think it's appropriate to comment on these allegations, I am very comfortable with the integrity of the deliberations of the ethics committee, the process that the committee went through and the unanimous conclusions that we reached."

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