POSTED: June 3rd 2016

NEIL WILSON: Are two major Olympic sports being punished?

IOC President Thomas Bach has his hands full © IOC/C.Moratal
IOC President Thomas Bach has his hands full © IOC/C.Moratal

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

(SFC) The scandals that have wrought havoc within athletics and football in the past year may have had the shocking result of costing their global presidents expected places on the International Olympic Committee.

Sebastian Coe and Gianni Infantino, newly elected presidents of the IAAF and FIFA, would have anticipated their naming among new members of the IOC who will be proposed to the IOC Congress in August.

Yesterday the IOC executive made eight nominations, three of whom come from outside sport, but Coe and Infantino from two of the big four Olympic sports were not among them.

Indeed, IOC president Thomas Bach revealed that they may not be chosen even next year when representatives of presidents of international federations are to be added the membership of 99 that will exist if the nominated eight have been voted into membership.

"We have in theory four places over for presidents of international federations. For two very important federations (gymnastics and swimming) there will be elections right after Rio. And there are 28 federations (among whom) there are many experienced presidents who could make a contribution," said Bach in a tele-conference after the three-day executive board meeting ended in Lausanne.

"Therefore we have come to the conclusion that we wait until we have the full picture and then next year ASOIF (the organisation representing all summer Olympic sports) will make a proposal."

So places for Coe and Infantino in the inner sanctum of the Olympic movement will be at the mercy of rival Olympic sports, and perhaps may be judged on their respective performances in clearing the mess of corruption in their federations.

The FIFA president was an IOC member from Joao Havelange's election to FIFA's top job in 1964 until  his successor Sepp Blatter reached the IOC official retirement age in 2014, a span of a half century.

Both men were elected as individuals but the position of the IAAF's representative is very different. The IAAF's president has been seen as an ex-officio member since 1992 when the then IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch was granted the privilege of two discretionary appointments for IF presidents  with the proviso that their membership of the IOC would end when their presidential terms expired.

He nominated Nebiolo - the original second was Olaf Poulsen, president of the International Skating Union - and in 1999 when Nebiolo died, his successor at the IAAF, Lamine Diack, was immediately elevated to IOC membership under the same terms.

Infantino's new role at FIFA is under threat already after a German newspaper revealed he has had minutes of meetings wiped. Coe's own position has been rocked by the controversies over Diack's alleged corruption and the covering up of doping results.

Had Bach supported Coe's nomination yesterday, he knew he might soon regret it because Coe's executive council will decide on June 17 whether to lift the suspension of the Russian athletic federation from this year's Olympics. If it refuses, it will cause ructions for the IOC just four days before a meeting Bach has called for Lausanne where Ifs and national Olympic committees will attempt to come to a consensus on Olympic bans for nations and sports convicted of excessive doping offences.

Bach repeatedly refused to be drawn in his tele-conference on whether Russian athletes will be in Rio, and whether clean Russians might be able to compete under the Olympic flag. "This is specuIation. I can't speculate," he said, and when the questions was re-phrased as to whether he was confident they would be in Rio, he stood firm.

"You can try from all different angles and perhaps in three hours I will fall into the trap but for now I am still very much awake," he said.

Whether he sleeps well amid all the controversies little more than 60 days out from Rio's opening ceremony, we can also only speculate.

** 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.

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