IOC hit by claims of corruption

More than 30 members of the International Olympic Committee may be subjected to an internal investigation after claims made by the BBC's Panorama programme of continued corruption within the organisation.

According to the programme to be broadcast tonight, almost a quarter of the 124 members are open to bribery to varying degrees in return for their vote for a city bidding to stage the Games in 2012.

The claims are made by the Serbian businessman Goran Takac, one of four "Olympic agents'' involved in numerous previous bids and filmed by Panorama. Investigative reporters posed as consultants who are supposedly acting for an east London business consortium trying to buy votes for London's bid to stage the Games.

If the claims prove well founded they will hugely undermine the IOC's anti-corruption drive. The IOC's anti-corruption unit began investigating Panorama's claims last week and said yesterday it was waiting to see the programme. Panorama was consulting its lawyers last night over which names it could hand to the IOC.

A member of the committee most directly implicated is Ivan Slavkov, the IOC member for Bulgaria and the son-in-law of that country's former communist dictator, Todor Zhivkov. Professor Slavkov agreed to a meeting in Sofia also attended by the agent Takac and the undercover reporters working for "New London Ventures''.

He appears to agree to consultants' requests for a "business contract" to influence other IOC members and remains impassive while details of his remuneration are discussed. After Professor Slavkov leaves the room the agent flicks through the list of IOC members, identifying the 34 who could be influenced. Four names, Takac said, were "100 per cent under control'' while others have to be approached more directly.

Takac refers back to an earlier conversation - also caught on film - when he offers to deliver up to €4m (£2.6m) for as many as 20 IOC votes, a third of the way to the winning post.

When they were contacted later by Panorama, both men said they had agreed to the meeting to expose what they thought was a real attempt to corrupt the bidding process.

* British triathlete Paul Amey, 31, will miss the Olympics after breaking his pelvis in a crash in Italy. He also missed the 2000 Games, with a stress fracture.

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