Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Olympic Games: IOC report shows `decades of bribery'

A CONFIDENTIAL International Olympic Committee report into the Salt Lake City Olympic scandal admits that bribery within the Olympic movement goes back decades and reveals that up to 16 IOC members could be expelled for their involvement in the affair.

The report will be delivered this weekend when the six-man IOC executive committee meets in Lausanne to decide what action to take. Informed sources indicate that it shows that Salt Lake City spent more than pounds 400,000 in gifts and payments during and after winning the 2002 Winter Games.

The report also outlines how influence-peddling by bidding cities and IOC members goes back decades and details the activities of two unofficial agents who contacted bidding cities. One offered to deliver 25 votes for pounds 1.3m. Another promised nine European votes for pounds 30,000-pounds 60,000 each.

Although Pound insists that the IOC has done nothing criminal, he warns that an investigation being carried out by the US Justice Department poses serious problems.

"We will have to consider what the position of the IOC will be if we are served with a subpoena to appear in front of a grand jury. This is a particularly odious procedural part of criminal law in which the accused virtually have no rights. It was a grand jury which dealt with Clinton matters," the report says.

In a separate revelation, Pound admitted he once turned down a $1m (pounds 600,000) bribe. "I once got offered a million bucks in connection with a television deal," he said in a speech earlier this week. "And I said: `Please, you don't have to offer me a million bucks. I want to do this because it's right [for the Olympics]'."

Pound refused to reveal details of the incident, saying only that his comment was intended to show the high standards to which IOC members should strive in light of the bribery scandal.

Meanwhile, the mayor of Nagano said that the city's Olympic bidding committee's decision to destroy its expense books had been proper and merely "the Japanese way of doing things."

Mayor Tasuku Tsukada said he left the decision on how to destroy the expense books to other officials. He explained that the expenses were approved at the committee's general meeting and that meant, as a matter of course, that the records could be destroyed. "In Japan, that means it's all done and finished," he said.

Some IOC officials inspecting Nagano as a possible site for the 1998 Winter Games were entertained by geisha, an official admitted yesterday. But he denied they were prostitutes.

"We couldn't very well have had the governor pour drinks," Sumikazu Yamaguchi, a member of the bidding committee, said. "All they did was pour drinks and dance."

In Australia, an official of Melbourne's failed 1996 Olympic bid revealed that the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra held a special concert so that the piano-playing daughter of a South Korean IOC member could show off her musical talents.

The novelist Shane Maloney said the bidding committee encouraged the orchestra to invite the girl to play with them and the concert drew a packed house.

"Certainly they [the MSO] were prompted at our suggestion to invite her," Maloney said. "I think she probably tinkles in the C division, rather than the A, but certainly she's a competent pianist." Despite Australia's magnanimous gesture, Atlanta's bid won the Games.

Vitaly Smirnov, the head of the Russian Olympic Committee and a former IOC vice president and executive board member, said the Salt Lake City bribery scandal is part of a plot to oust the IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, according to an interview published yesterday.

"I'm absolutely sure that someone wanted to oust Samaranch, to force him to resign under the wave of criticism. And then replace him with someone else who would carry out a different policy," he said.

"Who? Many people don't like Samaranch, many people want to profit from the Olympic movement, commercialise it. Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch have their vision of sport's future."