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Tuesday, January 19, 1999 Published at 20:19 GMT


Finnish official resigns from IOC

Scandal surrounds the Salt Lake City Olympic bid

Finland's Pirjo Haeggman has resigned from the International Olympic Committee after being linked to the scandal surrounding the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar reports (Radio 5 Live)
She was one of 13 IOC members asked to explain matters arising out of the bidding process which resulted in the US city winning the right to host the event.

Robert Helmick was the only previous IOC member to resign in response to a scandal. He stepped down in 1991 after allegations of a conflict of interests in contratcs with sports associations.

[ image: Pirjo Haeggman: Will more resignations follow?]
Pirjo Haeggman: Will more resignations follow?
IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch said last week that nine officials were accused of "serious" misconduct, with four others cited for lesser violations of regulations.

Haeggman handed her resignation to Samaranch at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday.

She later denied any wrongdoing, saying: "I have not broken any Olympic oath nor violated IOC rules."

But she added: "I have lost my ability to function as a constructive IOC member."

The former athlete, who won 12 Finnish titles over 100 and 400 metres, became one of the first women nominated to join the IOC in 1981.

She is a former vice president of the Finnish Amateur Athletic Association and ceremnonial manager at the 1994 European Athletics Championships.

A statement issued on behalf of Samaranch read: "The IOC President thanks Ms Haeggman for all the services which she gave to the Olympic movement as an athlete and as a member of the organisation."

Haeggman was last week removed from the organising committee for Helsinki's joint bid with Lahti and Lillehammer for the 2006 Winter Olympics.

It is claimed that her former husband Bjarne worked briefly for the Salt Lake bid committee after being commissioned to conduct an environmental study.

The IOC will meet this weekend to discuss the position of the other 12 members linked to the matter.

The meeting is expected to recommend sweeping changes in bidding procedures, including a ban on visits to potential host cities.

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