BBC is accused of sabotaging London bid

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The Independent Online

The organisers of London's bid for the 2012 Olympics have accused the BBC of attempting to sabotage the capital's chances by broadcasting a Panorama investigation this week.

The organisers of London's bid for the 2012 Olympics have accused the BBC of attempting to sabotage the capital's chances by broadcasting a Panorama investigation this week.

A senior source branded the documentary - which will claim to expose a new bribes-for-votes scandal in the 2012 bidding process - "as a piece of mischief" and said it could harm London's bid.

Undercover reporters working for Panorama posed as East London businessmen who would benefit from the Games being held in the capital. Although the BBC are refusing to reveal details, it is believed the Panorama investigation took place over a year and implicates a Bulgarian member of the International Olympic Committee, Ivan Slavkov, the 64-year-old son-in-law of the country's former Communist leader Todor Zhivkov.

While the BBC's sting operation does not implicate the London bid team in any way, there is concern that the team may have been tainted by association. "There may be some who will look at London as a trouble-making city for the IOC," the source said.

Also understood to be named by the BBC is Vitaly Smirnov, a Russian IOC vice-president. But yesterday he vigorously denied any involvement, saying that he contacted the IOC president, Jacques Rogge, immediately after he was approached. He has accused the BBC of an outrageous smear.

Panorama will say that the approaches were made on behalf of a group calling itself New London Ventures by Goran Takatch, a former adviser to the Russian Olympic Committee.

The programme also alleges that the London bid's chief executive, Keith Mills, sent an "inappropriate letter" to an unnamed IOC vice-president, which along with the rest of Panorama's allegations will be investigated by the IOC ethics committee. The programme will also contain allegations about similar approaches involving New York, one of London's four rivals.

The BBC refused to comment on claims it was helping to sabotage the London bid.

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