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Monday, January 25, 1999 Published at 05:20 GMT

World: Europe

Analysis: Putting the Olympic house in order

Samaranch: Veiled threat to all members

By Sports Correspondent Harry Peart in Lausanne

Members of the International Olympic Committee will be considering their position following the publication of the report into the Salt Lake City bribery and corruption scandal.

Six members face expulsion. Three others face further investigation and another has resigned. The sanctions against these members and the sweeping reforms of the bidding process for hosting the Olympics, still need to be ratified at an IOC meeting in March.

The next few weeks in the run-up to the special IOC congress in March will be decisive to the Olympic movement if it is to claim that it has put its own house in order.

It won't be easy. At least two of the members who face expulsion say they will protest their innocence, in spite of Mr Samaranch urging them to step down and accept their fate.

The changes to the host city selection procedure entails the setting up of a committee with only eight elected IOC members.

The rest will be banned from official visits or even entertaining guests from bidding cities. In effect, the members are losing their votes and they may well claim that that shows the leadership has no confidence in them.

Threat of power struggle

But Mr Samaranch has issued a veiled threat to all the members. He says he has never considered resigning, but will decide in March if he has the confidence of the members.

He knows that an early resignation could cause an epic power struggle to replace him as the most powerful in world sport.

The members will have to decide by a two-thirds majority whether to accept the bitter pills or face the prospect of a succession battle in the midst of a major scandal.

There is also the prospect of more revelations of misdeeds when four other investigations into the affair are concluded. So even the meeting in March will not bring an end to the IOC's discomfort.

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