IOC to fire six as bribe row grows

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The Independent Online
SIX MEMBERS of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were last night suspended with a recommendation that they should be expelled over "inappropriate behaviour" in the bidding process for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

The cases of three other members will continue to be investigated and a warning has been issued to one other member, all in connection with the successful bid for the games by Salt Lake City.

It was also announced that investigations would be widened into conduct involved in the bidding for previous games, and that the process of choosing an Olympic city will now be reformed to try to prevent further abuse of the system.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC president, while making the announcement said that a further resignation had been received from another of those implicated in the scandal, to go with those of two members who resigned last week.

He called on the six named last night to go voluntarily in order to close this sad chapter in Olympic history. "They have done great harm to the Olympic ideal," he said. "Their greatest service now would be to simply accept their fate."

Dick Pound, the Canadian IOC vice-president who led the special committee conducting the investigation, said that their activities did not amount to bribery or corruption. They had all, however, broken the Olympic oath which they took on joining the IOC.

What they had done, he said, amounted more to an "exercise of bad judgement".

"It was more asking for things. For assistance given that mounted to an abuse of their position, a position that could possibly decide the fate of a bidding city."

Of the six, four are from Africa and two from South America. Most prominent among them is Jean-Claude Ganga, from the Congo, who is president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa. He is also said to have been a close ally of Samaranch in his courting of support from Third World countries.

Ganga is a former ambassador to China. He was one of three African members said to have received a total of $28,000 worth of free medical services from companies that became the health care provider for the 2002 games. He is also said to have made a $60,000 profit on a land deal arranged by people associated with the Salt Lake City bid.

Other African members are: Zein El Abdin Abdel Gadir, from Sudan; Lamine Keita (Mali); and Charles Nderitu Mukora (Kenya). The additional member who resigned is David S Sibanze, of Swaziland.

Sergio Santander Fantini, from Chile, an IOC member since 1992 and president of the Chilean Olympic Committee, denies taking a $10,000 donation from Salt Lake City to help finance his re-election campaign as mayor of Santiago.

He, for one, is not intending to go quietly. Yesterday, before the results of the inquiry were announced, he said: "I don't think I am guilty. I am not going to quit. If I were forced out that would be very difficult for me. But the truth will appear."

Agustin Carlos Arroyo is a former private secretary to the president of Ecuador, and has been an IOC member since 1968. His stepdaughter worked for the Utah state government and the Salt Lake City Olympic Bid Committee. She is also said to have received help while attending a school in Texas.

Investigations are to continue into Kim Un-yong, from South Korea. If he were to be expelled, he would be the biggest fish to be caught in the investigative net - as he is a member of the IOC's ruling executive board.

Vitaly Smirnov, from Russia, and Louis Guirandou-N'Diaye, from the Ivory Coast, are also still under scrutiny. Anton Geesink, from Holland, was given a warning yesterday after he admitted receiving a donation of $5,000 from the Salt Lake City organisers to a private foundation. He said he had never asked for the money.

Low farce, page 3