POSTED: December 15th 2011

JOHN GOODBODY: Olympic bosses show the way to behave

IOC president Dr. Jacques Rogge has put forth a zero tolerance stance on ethics questions / IOC
IOC president Dr. Jacques Rogge has put forth a zero tolerance stance on ethics questions / IOC

THE JOHN GOODBODY COLUMN / An authoritative and exclusive series from Sports Features Communications

LONDON: At least the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has had the integrity to act against members,  who have allegedly behaved unethically. And that is more than can be said about the world governing bodies of football and athletics.

The Olympic presidency of Dr. Jacques Rogge has been marked by a determination that the ‘bribes for votes’ scandal of Salt Lake City in 1999 will not be repeated during his period in office. So when the IOC ethics commission reported their findings about the roles, played by Lamine Diack, President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and Issa Hayatou, the head of African football, in an alleged bribery scandal, the IOC was forced to act about two of their current members.

Both these men, leading figures in probably the two most important international federations, were among those listed to have received a total of about $100 million in alleged kickbacks from ISL, the  former Swiss marketing agency, which went bankrupt in 2001 owing around $300 million.

The IOC Executive Board warned Diack and reprimanded Hayatou. Dr. Rogge said:”The IOC has proved it respects its own rules. We have a high respect of ethical behaviour. We don’t hesitate to act when needed and when the evidence is brought to us.”

The Ethics Commission, set up in the wake of the Salt Lake City affair, when 10 IOC members either resigned or were expelled, investigated the report by the BBC Panorama programme into the financial arrangements in ISL in the 1990s. This claimed that Diack had received a total of $41,500. He denied impropriety stating he had received the cash as compensation from Jean-Marie Weber, an ISL executive, when his house in Senegal burnt down in 1993 and were not in return for any favour.

However, the Ethics Commission pointed out that the IAAF was at the time in negotiations with ISL and that “by accepting a cash donations in these conditionms from a marketing partner of the international federation of which he was”(then)” vice-president , Mr Lamine Diack placed himself in a conflict of interests situation.” So far the IAAF has not taken any further action over its President.

Hayatou, President of the African Football Confederation (CAF), admitted receiving $20,000 from ISL but claimed it was used for an anniversay of CAF. The Ethics Commisison noted that:”the documents produced by the person concerned, drawn up a long time after the receipt of funds, do not guarantee that the paymnts were indeed made into the CAF accounts. It considers that personally accepting a sum of money in these conditions constitutes a conflict of interests.”

Even more significant, Joao Havelange, the 95 year-old President of Fifa from 1974-98, resigned his membership of the IOC, which he has held for 48 years, only days before it is believed he was due to be suspended for two years for allegedly receiving a kickback of $1 million from ISL. As a result of the resignation, the IOC could not take any action.

However, Fifa, who have repeatedly failed to act over the allegations of corruption in the organisation, could not only do something about Havelange but also about several other younger leading Fifa officials. These details are in files, which the current Fifa President Sepp Blatter has said he will announce he will hand over to “independent organisation outside Fifa”  this month. It will be fascinating to see if he does –and what is the result of any inquiry by the independent organisation.

** JOHN GOODBODY covered the 2008 Olympics for The Sunday Times, his 11th successive Summer Games and is the author of the audio book A History of the Olympics, read by Barry Davies, the BBC commentator. He was Sports News Correspondent of The Times 1986-2007, for whom he received journalistic awards in all three decades on the paper, including Sports Reporter of The Year in 2001.

Keywords · IOC · IAAF · ethics ·

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