IOC whistle-blower in `muzzling' claim

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The Independent Online
A LEADING official who has made serious allegations of attempted corruption in the Olympic movement yesterday said he feared he may be thrown out of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for his comments.

Marc Hodler had earlier said he had been told to keep quiet by the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch.

"I'm not saying anything - by presidential order," Mr Hodler said as he left an executive board meeting.

Asked if he had been muzzled, the 80-year-old Swiss official replied: "That's it exactly. I've been muzzled." Later, when he was asked if he would resign over the affair, he replied: "I'm not resigning. Perhaps I'll be thrown out."

Mr Hodler claimed at the weekend that cities bidding to host Olympic Games had been offered crucial blocks of votes in return for paying millions of dollars to agents.

The accusations are by far the most serious that have ever been made on record by a leading Olympic official. After first distancing itself from his remarks, the IOC yesterday admitted that it had been concerned by the work of agents for some time.

Mr Hodler, an IOC member since 1963, has held numerous senior positions in the organisation, including that of vice-president.

The allegations had come one day after the IOC said it was investigating accusations over payments connected to Salt Lake City's successful bid to stage the 2002 Winter Games.

Officials in the American city insist that they did not offer bribes, but nevertheless apologised yesterday over the affair.

The IOC vice-president, Dick Pound, said yesterday: "We have been concerned for some time by what seems to be the development of professional Olympic agents offering services to bid committees."