POSTED: November 23rd 2011

NEIL WILSON: Rogge facing a curveball for Christmas

IOC headquarters in Lausanne / SFC images
IOC headquarters in Lausanne / SFC images

THE NEIL WILSON COLUMN / An exclusive, authoritative series from Sports Features Communications

LONDON: There may be members of the International Olympic Committee not on president Jacques Rogge’s Christmas card list this year. At least, not in the event that his Ethics Commission sends him a curveball early next month with its report on dirty dealings among the membership.

The case revolves around the revelations of BBC Television’s current affairs programme Panorama’s allegations of bribery of IOC members by its former marketing agents ISL, a Swiss company which collapsed owing $300 million in 2001.

A list of bribes paid was entered in evidence in a case in the Swiss canton of Zug. Panorama claimed this showed that IOC and FIFA members were among those who received some of the $100 million paid out over many years. The IOC has asked the court for its disclosure to them.

Issa Hayatou, the president of the Confederation of African Football, Joao Havelange, the former president of FIFA, and Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF, were three named by Panorama. Each is an IOC member.

Panorama reporter Andrew Jennings told a Brazilian Senate committee investigating money laundering by Ricardo Teixeira, head of the organising committee of the 2014 World Cup, that Havelange received $9.5 million from ISL.  Havelange, the longest serving IOC member, has not commented.   

Hayatou says that $100,000 was a gift to his Confederation and was entered in its accounts. Diack says that the three sums he received in 1993 totalling $41,500 was a “gift” from supporters after his family home was burned down.

Jean-Marie Weber, known in sport as The Bagman who was in charge of ISL at the time, is today still a member of the CAF marketing commission. He was also a guest of Diack at the International Athletics Forum’s World Gala in Monte Carlo this month.

All these are allegations but if the Ethics Commission finds them to be true, what is Rogge to do? He has said that the Ethics Commissions will give him answers but not propose decisions. That will be for the Executive Board meeting in Lausanne on December 7-8 to decide.

He should recall when it comes to those decisions that in the aftermath of the Salt Lake City scandal the IOC expelled members, in some cases for receiving far less in kind than is alleged against the present members. Expulsion would be embarrassing and spoil his Christmas but better that than a lingering smell of corruption.

Let him remember the words of  Dick Pound, the former IOC vice-president who chaired the investigation into Salt Lake City and probably wrecked his own chance of succeeding to the IOC presidency by his straight dealing on the issue.

In his book “Inside the Olympics” Pound said: “The situation would never have developed had there not been IOC members who were greedy and tasteless and who lost sight (assuming they ever had it) of their own duty to be incorruptible in the exercise of their functions”.

Those, I think, who do lose sight of it should be red-carded from sport for the sake of sport.

NEIL WILSON reported his first Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. He has since covered another nine summer and nine winter Olympics for various newspapers, including The Independent and the Daily Mail with whom he has worked for the last 19 years as Athletics and Olympic correspondent. He was Britain's Sports Journalist of the Year in 1984 and is the author of seven books.

Keywords · IOC · Jacques Rogge · Issa Hayatou · Joao Havelange · Lamine Diack · Neil Wilson

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