Olympic Games: Ganga loses home support

AS THE Salt Lake City bribery scandal claimed another victim, the African Olympic official at its heart is trying to mobilise African support for his fight against expulsion from the International Olympic Committee.

Jean-Claude Ganga, the IOC member accused of receiving more than $200,000 in cash and inducements from Salt Lake, which won the right to stage the 2002 Winter Games, has little backing, African Olympic officials said yesterday.

Ganga, the president of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa, has called an emergency meeting of the organisation's executive committee for next Tuesday in Libreville, Gabon, before he argues against his expulsion at the 17-18 March general assembly of the IOC.

Ganga, who led the African boycott of the 1976 Montreal Olympics, apparently claims his case is part of a wider campaign against Africa, because half of the IOC members implicated in the scandal, and three of the six facing expulsion, are African.

However, Sam Ramsamy, an IOC member who heads the South African Olympic committee, said he regretted that another of the individuals implicated are African, "but I and a number of my colleagues don't see it as an African issue."

Another implicated in the scandal, Sergio Santander, has resigned as president of Chile's Olympic committee. Santander, who could be expelled from the IOC for receiving money from the Salt Lake bid committee, acknowledged receiving $4,700 (pounds 2,950) from Tom Welch, the former president of the Salt Lake bid organisers, but he called it a personal contribution to his 1993 campaign for election to Chile's congress. He cited medical reasons for his resignation.

The Quebec mayor, Jean-Paul L'Allier, has written to the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, asking the IOC to reimburse the $8m the city spent on bidding for the 2002 Games, but Dick Pound, the IOC's Canadian vice president, said Quebec simply lost to a better bid.