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Bulgarian IOC Member Barred

Slavkov loses privileges amid bid inquiry; he denies allegations. Four lobbyists also punished.

August 08, 2004|Alan Abrahamson | Times Staff Writer

ATHENS — In the wake of a British television show alleging impropriety in the Olympic host-city bid process, the International Olympic Committee on Saturday suspended the privileges of a Bulgarian IOC member and declared four Olympic lobbyists "persona non grata."

The IOC's policymaking executive board, in a decision taken three days after the airing of the BBC news magazine program "Panorama," moved to "provisionally deprive" Bulgarian member Ivan Slavkov of his IOC privileges pending an inquiry by the IOC ethics commission. Slavkov has denied any wrongdoing.

As part of the program, an undercover BBC crew secretly filmed Slavkov and one of the four lobbyists, Goran Takac of Belgrade. The thrust of the show was whether -- and how -- votes could be bought in the campaign, ongoing now, for the 2012 Summer Games. Lobbyists suggested they could buy IOC votes. The show did not, however, show cash changing hands or the promise of a vote for a particular city.

It did, however, raise questions about an appearance of impropriety in the bid-city process, the same process that rocked the IOC in late 1998 with the Salt Lake City corruption scandal. IOC President Jacques Rogge on Saturday said the IOC had as an institution established meaningful reforms after the Salt Lake scandal and that he personally had "zero tolerance" for "corruption."

Rogge added, "To say I'm disappointed -- I'm more than disappointed. I'm an angry man."

In other action, the executive board Saturday put off a decision in the case of the U.S. men's 1,600-meter relay team from the 2000 Sydney Games. Track's worldwide governing body, the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, has recommended that the IOC strip the team of its medals because Jerome Young, who ran in the preliminary rounds of the relay, tested positive the year before for a banned steroid and thus should have been ineligible to compete in Sydney.

The IOC said it is required under a complex set of legal procedures to wait 60 days from July 18, the date of the IAAF recommendation, to see whether any of the others on the team, including sprint legend Michael Johnson, opt to file an appeal of the IAAF ruling.

The IOC also said it would launch an inquiry into an account published last week in an Australian newspaper that hinted at the possibility of doping involving U.S. swimmers in 2000. Details of the complicated allegations remain sketchy.

The 1998 Salt Lake scandal exploded amid disclosures that Utah bidders had won the 2002 Winter Games by showering IOC members or their relatives with more than $1 million in cash, gifts and other inducements.

Ten IOC members resigned or were expelled. The IOC enacted a 50-point reform plan that includes a ban on visits by members to cities bidding for the Games.

The IOC is due to select the 2012 city in July at an all-delegates session in Singapore. Five cities are in the race -- New York, Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow.

Rogge was elected IOC president in July 2001, taking over from Juan Antonio Samaranch of Spain. Rogge's administration of the IOC has consistently paid homage to Samaranch while simultaneously seeking to instill in the IOC a more corporate-style culture rooted in attention to ethical regards.

The BBC program, based on a yearlong undercover operation, featured reporters posing as consultants representing London business interests.

Officials with the London 2012 bid have said repeatedly the bid is not connected to the BBC show.

The other three lobbyists featured in the show -- Gabor Komyathy of Hungary, Mahmood el-Farnawani of Egypt and Abdul Mutalleb Ahmad of Kuwait -- are familiar faces on the Olympic scene. Ahmad serves as director general of the Olympic Council of Asia, the confederation of Asia's 44 national Olympic committees.

IOC rules say that "Olympic parties" must "not act in a manner likely to tarnish the reputation of the Olympic movement," and Rogge has been quick to act when a member -- even a senior member -- has been implicated on his watch in misconduct.

This year, Kim Un Yong of South Korea, an IOC vice president, saw his membership privileges suspended amid allegations in Seoul of embezzlement.

Kim was subsequently convicted. He was sentenced in June to 2 1/2 years in prison. His IOC post remains vacant pending an appeal of the criminal case.

Expulsion of a member requires a two-thirds vote in the all-delegates IOC session.

The executive board has recommended the expulsion at this week's IOC session of Indonesia's Mohamad "Bob" Hasan, who has been suspended from the IOC since May 2001. Hasan, an IOC member since 1994 and crony of former Indonesian ruler Suharto, was jailed there on corruption charges; he is now free on parole.

Besides revoking Slavkov's membership privileges, the IOC also yanked his credentials for the Athens Games, which start Friday. Slavkov had been due to arrive here today.

The IOC also said it would withdraw 2004 Summer Games credentials from the four lobbyists.

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