IOC rebukes Gosper for breaking ethics rules

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The Independent Online

The IOC has given its Australian vice president Kevan Gosper a "serious" rebuke after he broke election rules by publicly announcing his support for one of the candidates for the organisation's presidency.

In a letter to Gosper the chairman of the International Olympic Committee ethics commission, Keba Mbaye, said he had broken the panel's rules when he told an Australian radio station that he favored Canada's Dick Pound.

"I warn you seriously against this behavior which conflicts with the harmonious course of a campaign that up to now has been marked by moderation and loyalty," Mbaye told Gosper.

Mbaye said he did not plan to recommend any other sanction for Gosper because the Australian had apologized.

"I do hope that this incident will remain an isolated one," he added.

In last week's radio interview, Gosper told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that he and Pound, a Canadian, had made a reciprocal agreement to support each other should either of them stand for election in the race to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch.

Gosper, who is not running, said Pound, Belgium's Jacques Rogge and South Korea's Kim Un–yong were the front–runners for the International Olympic Committee presidency.

He said Pound "is the most experienced of all three and has contributed remarkably across the board."

He added that Kim, at age 70, was too old for the job and had been "caught up" in the Salt Lake bribery scandal, where some IOC members were expelled and others censured for taking favors from boosters of Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2002 Winter Games.

"For me, the two younger men should be the people out of whom we chose," Gosper was quoted as saying, referring to Pound and Rogge. "Either of the two men would be very good presidents. Kim is 70 and in my own mind that is too late."

Pal Schmitt of Hungary and Anita DeFrantz of the United States are the other candidates vying to succeed Samaranch.

Under rules set out by the ethics commission earlier this year, IOC members are prohibited from stating publicly how they intend to vote in the election, which will be held by secret ballot in Moscow on July 16.

Mbaye said he accepted that Gosper had announced his support for Pound before the rules came into force but this fact "does not, strictly speaking, justify that you should reiterate these statements."

The incident was the second time that Gosper had been investigated by the ethics commission.

Last year, after a long inquiry, he was cleared of charges that he and his family accepted excessive hospitality from the Salt Lake City bid organizers.

Gosper also came under intense scrutiny after his 11–year–old daughter, Sofie, was allowed to be the first Australian to run with the Olympic torch after the flame for the 2000 Sydney Games was lit in Greece last year.

Francois Werner, special representative to the ethics commission, said the rule banning members from revealing voting intentions had been made "in order to have a quiet campaign."

"Just imagine what could happen if every day you had somebody saying, 'This man is too old,' or 'This man is too young,' or 'This man is my friend,' and so on," he told The Associated Press last week.