IOC suspends Bulgarian member

Posted: Sunday, August 08, 2004

ATHENS, Greece (AP) Pursuing a ''zero tolerance'' policy against corruption, the IOC suspended a senior Bulgarian sports official accused of misconduct Saturday and revoked his credentials for the Athens Olympics.

Four lobbyists implicated in alleged vote-peddling for bid cities were also barred from the games.

Determined to avoid any repeat of the Salt Lake City scandal, the International Olympic Committee acted swiftly to deal with suggestions of bribery in a BBC television program on the bid campaign for the 2012 Summer Games.

''I'm more than disappointed I am an angry man,'' IOC president Jacques Rogge said. ''I am angry at the behavior of some people within and without the IOC.

"The behavior of some people is tarnishing what is a wonderful movement. ... It's always very sad to see some individuals don't respect the rules.''

Bulgarian IOC member Ivan Slavkov was secretly filmed by an undercover BBC television crew discussing how votes could be bought. The program, aired Wednesday in Britain, also featured four middlemen who said they could secure IOC members' votes for money.

New York, Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow are vying for the 2012 Games.

The IOC will select the host city in July 2005.

The IOC ethics commission submitted a report on the case at the opening of a two-day executive board meeting. The board accepted the panel's recommendations to ''provisionally suspend'' Slavkov of all his IOC rights and functions pending a full inquiry.

Slavkov contends he knew it was a setup and played along to expose what he thought was a real attempt to corrupt the process a defense rejected by the ethics panel.

The IOC also withdrew Slavkov's credentials for the Athens Olympics, which begin Aug. 13. The 64-year-old Slavkov, who heads Bulgaria's national Olympic committee and soccer federation, had been scheduled to arrive Sunday to attend the three-day IOC general assembly beginning Tuesday.

''This is a very unpleasant situation for Bulgaria,'' Bulgarian sports minister Vasil Ivanov told state radio in Sofia. ''I hope this will not affect our athletes' morale at the games.''

Under the IOC charter, the executive board can suspend any members ''who, by their conduct, jeopardize the interests of the IOC.''

The last IOC member to be suspended was Kim Un-yong, a vice president who was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in June on embezzlement and bribery charges in South Korea. He is appealing, and his IOC post remains vacant.

If an IOC member is found guilty of serious violations, the board can propose expulsion. That requires a two-thirds vote of the full 100-plus general assembly.

Rogge said Slavkov will be given a chance to defend himself at a hearing. The earliest he could be considered for possible expulsion would be at the next IOC session in Singapore in July 2005, Rogge said.

The IOC is dealing with the most serious ethics allegations since the Salt Lake City case, which led to the expulsion and resignation of 10 members in 1998 and 1999 for receiving cash, gifts and other incentives during the Utah capital's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

The IOC said it would deny Olympic credentials for the four agents filmed by the BBC Serbian-based Goran Takac, Gabor Komyathy of Hungary, Mahmood El Farnawani of Egypt and Abdul Muttaleb Ahmad of Kuwait. Rogge said Olympic officials and bid cities should have no contact with the men.

Ahmad is director general of the Olympic Council of Asia. Rogge said Ahmad will never be accredited for the Olympics or IOC meetings, but it will be up to the OCA to take any other action.

In a separate case, the IOC board recommended the expulsion of Indonesian member Mohamad ''Bob'' Hasan at next week's session. Hasan was suspended from the IOC in May 2001 after being jailed on corruption charges in Indonesia. Previous moves to expel him were postponed pending legal appeals.

On other matters, the IOC:

Put off a decision on whether to strip the entire U.S. 1,600-meter relay team of gold medals from the Sydney Games, saying it will wait until all appeals have been completed.

The team, which included Michael Johnson, could lose its medals because of a doping violation by teammate Jerome Young a year before the 2000 Olympics. Young has already been disqualified by the International Association of Athletics Federations.

Appointed a three-man commission to investigate an Australian newspaper report that a doctor for the 2000 U.S. swimming team gave two American swimmers performance-enhancing drugs just months before the Sydney Olympics. The Advertiser quoted Glen Luepnitz as saying two female U.S. swimmers used a human growth hormone for several months. The names of the swimmers were not included in the report.

Said it was studying the case of Belarusian sports minister Yuri Sivakov, who has been banned from the Athens Games by the Greek government because of alleged human rights abuses.

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