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  Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 16:34 GMT 17:34 UK
Salt Lake survives the scandal
Commemorative pins ahead of the 2002 Winter Olympics
The merchandise machine is already in gear
BBC Sport's Gordon Farquhar analyses the corruption affair that shook the Olympic movement to the core.

It was late November 1998 when allegations of unethical behaviour surrounding IOC members and the Salt lake City bid for the 2002 winter Games first surfaced.

The document at the centre of the allegations later proved to be a forgery, but the validity of its contents are now beyond doubt.

No-one really took seriously the claims of a small local TV station in Utah.


IOC members had been enjoying the gravy train, and the grease was running down their chins

But on the 11th of December that year, the wheels started to come off the Olympic wagon.

At the end of an IOC executive board meeting in Lausanne, long-serving member Marc Hodlertold journalists there was not only evidence of wrongdoing surrounding Salt Lake, but that the problems were systematic.

There were members on the take, no question.

And what followed shook the Olympic movement to the core.

IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch
Samaranch had to step up the investigations

An ad hoc committee of investigation was hurriedly set up and despatched to the United States.

It found clear evidence that not just one or two but up to 20 of the 110 or so IOC members had been up to no good.

They had been enjoying the gravy train, and the grease was running down their chins.

  • Some had allowed the Salt Lake organisers to pay for their family holidays.
  • Others found jobs or university places for their relatives.
  • First class travel was the norm.
  • Gifts were lavish, some were bizarre - one member was even offered a dog as a present.

    There were clearly stated rules governing visits by IOC members to bidding cities, but they were widely disregarded, and there was little enforcement.

    Fault lay not just with those who took the gifts, but those who offered them, who were equally aware of those rules, and the IOC at large for failing to police them.

    Three members resigned in the following weeks, and as the scandal made international headlines, so the IOC credibility began to collapse.

    Watershed congress

    Sponsors, already twitchy at the increasing prevalence of high-profile doping cases, began to wobble at the prospect of their products being associated with sleaze as well.

    The IOC had to respond, and quickly, after their initial efforts to contain the crisis internally had failed.

    Juan Antonio Samaranch called an extraordinary congress, for only the second time in the movement's history, and ordered the investigation to be widened.

    All 37 bidding cities from 1990 onwards were asked to report evidence of similar wrong-doing.


  • The reforms process that has begun, will make the IOC more open, accountable, democratic

    In March 1999, IOC members voted to expel another six of their own. Ten were warned about their future conduct, four more had resigned.

    The congress can now be looked upon as a watershed.

    An Ethics Commission was created, and the IOC 2000 Reform Commission set up. The former would establish new guidelines for members' conduct, the latter would revamp the way host cities were selected.

    The IOC agreed for the first time to publish its accounts according to established international practices, and open its sessions to the media.

    Ultimately, Salt Lake has been an epiphany for the Olympic movement.

    Accused of being self-serving, undemocratic and secretive, it was caught with its hands in the till.

    What has happened since, and the reforms process that has begun, will make the IOC more open, accountable, democratic.

    The organisation will also become more relevant not just to the athletes whose interests it is supposed to serve, but to the public, who have to believe in it.

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    29 Jun 01 | Other Sports
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