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Wednesday, 7 February, 2001, 18:09 GMT
Samaranch: Salt Lake scandal over
Juan Antonio Samaranch
Samaranch has no objections to Beijing's bid
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch has formally closed the book on the vote-buying scandal relating to Salt Lake City's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

Speaking at the close of the IOC executive board meeting in Senegal, the 80-year-old outgoing president said: "I can say that the scandal is over."

I think in a few weeks or months the questions will be about athletes, not lawyers
  Juan Antonio Samaranch
And the former Spanish ambassador insisted that the possible trial of two top officials of the Salt Lake City bidding committee during the 2002 Winter Games would have no impact on the IOC.

He added: "It will not be very agreeable if the judgement goes on during the Games but that will not be our problem. It will be Salt Lake City's problem.

"I think in a few weeks or months the questions will be about athletes, not lawyers."

Despite the fact there are still thousands of documents to be released about the scandal which led to six IOC members being expelled and four others resigning, Samaranch said there were no hidden skeletons that could harm the movement.

"We are used to reading in the press about new documents. Since March last year there has been nothing new concerning the IOC," he added.

I would say to the new president that the most important thing is to keep the unity
  Juan Antonio Samaranch
Samaranch preferred to look forward to his replacement as president in July.

He said: "I would say to the new president that the most important thing is to keep the unity. But it is easy to say but not easy to do."

Hungary's Pal Schmitt and American Anita de Frantz have already declared their bids but IOC marketing guru Dick Pound, Belgium's Jacques Rogges and South Korea's Kim Un-Yong are all expected to put their names forward before the 10 April deadline.

Samaranch stated that he does not expect a divisive election.

He refused to be drawn on the complaint from some nations that Beijing should not be awarded the 2008 Summer Olympics because of China's poor human rights record.

Beijing is the favourite to win ahead of Paris, Toronto, Osaka and Istanbul.

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05 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
DeFrantz tastes life at the top
09 Aug 00 |  Olympics2000
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