Olympic Games: Coles steals the IOC spotlight

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The Independent Online
THE EMBATTLED International Olympic Committee member Phil Coles arrived in Lausanne yesterday before a meeting with the IOC, claiming he is the victim of a witch-hunt.

"At the moment there are no allegations other than those from certain sections of the press," he said. "There are no allegations and everything I've heard to this point can be answered. Yes, I think it's become a witch- hunt for a small section of press. They can't blame me for the Kosovo war or anything really serious - at least I hope not. I've done absolutely nothing wrong."

Coles, a former Olympic kayaker who has been an IOC member since 1982, will be questioned by a three-member IOC panel tomorrow about Sydney 2000 bid documents passed on to someone involved in Salt Lake City's controversial winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

It is the second time Coles has been summoned to the IOC's Lausanne base to defend himself. He received a severe warning in March for accepting excessive hospitality and travel from Salt Lake.

The IOC had hoped attention would be fixed on the 2000 commission, which began the task of Olympic reform yesterday by hearing from high-profile members such as the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the billionaire Italian industrialist Giovanni Agnelli.

But Coles stole the spotlight. "It's crucial for the IOC, it's crucial for everyone to try and get this thing off the table," he said. "Everyone is disappointed that it's taken so long, but that's the process and I've got every confidence in that process. It's been a nightmare, an absolute nightmare. I've never seen such vilification. It's been tough, very tough."

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