BCC show implicates corruption in 2012 Olympic bids

Updated: August 3, 2004, 6:39 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- Four middlemen claim in meetings secretly taped by a BBC TV program that they could secure IOC members' votes in bidding for the 2012 Olympics.

The show, which offers no conclusive evidence of bribery, will air in Britain on Wednesday night. Reporters were shown an advance screening Tuesday.

Only one IOC member, Ivan Slavkov of Bulgaria, is specifically implicated. He is shown discussing how to influence votes, but his comments are ambiguous, and he and one of the middlemen, Goran Takac, denied any wrongdoing at a news conference in Sofia on Tuesday. Takac said they played along to expose potential corruption. Attempts to reach the other middlemen were unsuccessful.

Told last week about the program, the IOC asked its ethics commission to investigate "alleged inappropriate conduct within the Olympic movement linked with the bid process."

IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Tuesday the committee would have no further comment until officials have seen the broadcast. The matter is expected to be discussed at IOC executive board meetings in Athens this week.

The BBC's "Buying the Games" report is based on a yearlong undercover investigation. Reporters posed as consultants from a fictitious company acting for clients who wanted the 2012 Olympics in London.

The BBC said its reporters were promised 54 votes for London by the four lobbyists -- Takac, who's based in Serbia-Montenegro, Gabor Komyathy of Hungary, Mahmood El Farnawani of Egypt and Abdul Muttaleb Ahmad of Kuwait. Ahmad, director general of the Olympic Council of Asia, offered to set up meetings with 23 Asian IOC members but said he wouldn't be involved in any cash payments to members.

The program also reviews the Salt Lake City scandal, which led to the ouster of 10 IOC members in 1998-99 for accepting cash, gifts and other inducements from leaders of the winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games. The IOC implemented a series of reforms, including a ban on members visiting bid cities and strict controls on lobbying.

The BBC program seeks to show corruption still exists.

"It's all about money -- full stop," Takac says in a secretly filmed conversation. "Money in terms of cash. To create votes."

"We give you money, and you give money to IOC members?" the undercover BBC reporter asks.

"That's one of the ways," Takac replies. "And it will not go through me because you have to be protected, they have to be protected."

Takac said he could deliver 15 to 20 votes and seven to 10 members would require payment. He said he would charge about $1 million for the entire campaign.

IOC vice president Vitaly Smirnov of Russia was approached by the undercover BBC team but refused a meeting.

"I answered with a categoric, 'No,' saying that I can't and don't have the right to do that," he told The Associated Press on Tuesday, adding that he had notified IOC president Jacques Rogge.

The London bid committee said it is cooperating with the IOC investigation.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press