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Fresh Olympic bribery claims

THE OLYMPIC bribery scandal looks likely to ensnare more members of the International Olympic Committee and implicate more cities after the chief investigator said he was widening the inquiry.

Dick Pound, the IOC vice- president and Canadian member heading the inquiry, said yesterday that "an indefinite number" of new targets had been added to the list since the report of the initial phase was released last Sunday.

He said Salt Lake City remained under investigation in addition to Sydney, the 2000 Summer Games host city, and Toronto's unsuccessful bid for the 1996 Olympics. Three additional IOC members were also part of the inquiry, according to The Washington Post yesterday.

More revelations emerged concerning bribery allegations. Tom Godfrey, a former council official for Salt Lake City, has told the FBI of nervous colleagues who arrived at a meeting in 1995 in Budapest, Hungary, with IOC officials. He said they were clutching a bag of $50,000 (pounds 31,000) in cash just before the 2002 Winter Games were awarded.

So far the IOC inquiry has found Salt Lake City's bid committee spent more than $800,000, including cash payments, to 14 IOC members and other fringe benefits including free schooling and healthcare.

Evidence has also come to light of IOC members being entertained by women from an escort agency in hotels in Salt Lake City. George and Milena Georgiev, who opened Snow White Escort Services in 1993, said two escorts performed stripteases for IOC officials. They could not say who arranged or paid for the escorts.

The news has brought further pressure on Juan Antonio Samaranch, the IOC president, to resign amid accusations that he has insulated himself from scandal by setting up other members to bear the brunt of the claims. He has denied wrongdoing but yesterday resigned as president of La Caixa, one of Spain's big banks. He said, that at 78, he was too old.