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Unethical conduct allegations draw probe

8/1/2004

LONDON -- The International Olympic Committee is
investigating allegations of unethical conduct in the host city
bidding process for the 2012 Summer Games.

The move, centered on accusations in an upcoming British
Broadcasting Corp. program, comes six years after the IOC was
rocked by the Salt Lake City bid scandal.

The IOC said Thursday it has asked its ethics commission to look
into the points raised by the BBC investigative news show
"Panorama."

The program, titled "Buying the Games," is scheduled to air
next Wednesday. A Panorama news release said the show, based on a
yearlong undercover investigation, "reveals that the votes of some
members of the International Olympic Committee are still being
offered for sale."

IOC communications director Giselle Davies said the committee
"has been made aware by the media of alleged inappropriate conduct
within the Olympic movement linked with the bid process" and has
turned over the case to the ethics panel.

A letter announcing the move was sent Wednesday to all 100-plus
IOC members, as well as officials of the five cities bidding for
the 2012 Games, organizers of the Athens Olympics and future host
cities, and corporate sponsors.

"The IOC ethics commission is at the disposal of anyone with
information that might be relevant to this matter," the letter
said.

The commission was set up following the Salt Lake City case,
which broke in late 1998 and led to the resignation or expulsion of
10 IOC members. Delegates had received cash, gifts and other
inducements from leaders of Salt Lake's winning bid for the 2002
Winter Games.

Dick Pound, the senior Canadian member who led the IOC's
internal inquiry into the Salt Lake scandal, said he didn't know
the details of the latest allegations.

"Assuming it's a genuine thing, and it's a sting operation, it
is pretty disappointing," he said. "I assume the ethics
commission is going to take a pretty close look at it."

The Salt Lake scandal prompted the IOC to adopt a series of
reforms, including a ban on gift-giving and member visits to bid
cities.

New York, Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow are vying for the
2012 Games. The IOC will select the host city in July 2005.

Rules restricting lobbying have been put into place for the
campaign.

Davies said the IOC was acting swiftly to deal with any
allegations of impropriety.

"The IOC has the appropriate body and procedures in place with
its ethics commission to deal with any ethical issues, and has
acted quickly by officially asking the ethics commission to
investigate," she said.

Davies said she had been contacted by the BBC program and asked
to respond to a number of allegations of possible misconduct. She
said she had suggested the program pass on the information to the
ethics panel.

It was unclear whether the show implicates any IOC members or
other individuals in irregularities. Davies said the information
presented to her by the BBC lacked "concrete and factual
information."

In its release, Panorama said it sought "to find out what it
takes to get the games, and it would appear that the answer is
simple -- cash."

The program said reporters posed as consultants acting for
clients with business interests in East London who wanted the games
to come to the British capital.

"The men who say they can buy these votes are professional
agents who, in the past, have been paid hundred of thousands of
dollars by previous bid cities to help get IOC votes," the release
said.

"These men have connections to influential figures within the
IOC. All claim they already have been approached for their services
by cities bidding for the 2012."

The BBC's press office said Thursday the program was still in
the editing process and it had no other information to provide.

Leaders of London's 2012 committee said they have provided the
IOC panel with copies of correspondence between the bid team and
the Panorama producers which `reaffirmed the bid's total commitment
and adherence to the ethical rules of the IOC."

"London 2012 had no knowledge of the approaches being made
apparently on behalf of London businesses," bid chairman Sebastian
Coe said. "London 2012 has acted properly and ethically throughout
the bidding process and we totally support the IOC's decision to
refer these allegations to the ethics commission."