Ousted IOC Official Criticizes Rules
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ IOC rules against accepting lavish benefits from bid cities were unrealistically aimed at ``angels and saints,″ said the ousted member who allegedly gained the most in the Salt Lake bribery scandal.
Jean-Claude Ganga of the Congo Republic, expelled for accepting $270,000 in cash, travel, medical care and other gifts from Utah bidders, said the International Olympic Committee’s rules were wrong and should have been flouted.
``Laws are made by men. It’s not the laws that make the man,″ Ganga said Monday. ``If you can’t adapt laws to different situations, because man is not a machine, those laws are bad and must be changed. ...
``The Olympic Games and the Olympic movement are organized by individuals. They are not angels and saints. If you want angels and saints, go organize the Olympic Games in heaven, not on earth.″
The worst scandal in Olympic history had driven a stake into the IOC’s heart, Ganga said.
``What is the objective of the Olympic movement? It’s to bring together the different colors and different continents,″ he said. ``Today it’s a corruption syndrome. People are afraid to talk to each other, to do business, to have meetings, to eat. Is that the objective of the Olympic movement?″
Ganga is among six members ousted by IOC leaders in their investigation of a $1.2 million vote-buying scheme run by the bid that won Salt Lake the 2002 Winter Games.
The expulsions will be voted upon by 91 IOC members Wednesday, with a two-thirds vote needed to uphold the leadership’s actions. Officials said it was up to the assembly, meeting in an emergency session, to decide if the vote would be by a show of hands or secret ballot.
Whatever method is chosen, Ganga said he would fight hard to hold onto the seat he has held since 1986.
``We are here to win,″ his son Jean-Noel said following a news conference at which his father denied any wrongdoing.
Jean-Claude Ganga said his ouster was part of a ``plot against the Third World″ and ``a decision to exclude Africa from the center of decision making in world sports.″
Three of the six members expelled were from African countries, with the others from Latin America and Samoa.
Ganga also said he was being punished for leading the African boycott of the 1976 Montreal Games, and that the whole investigation revolved around efforts to pick a successor to Juan Antonio Samaranch as IOC president.
``Three of the members on the (inquiry) commission have said they might run for president,″ he said, referring to chairman Dick Pound of Canada, Pal Schmitt of Hungary and Jacques Rogge of Belgium.
Pound called Ganga’s charges ``completely wrong.″
``None of the investigations or recommendations were politically motivated. ... ,″ Pound said at a separate news conference. ``The past is the past. More important is the present.″
At a 1 1/2-hour session with reporters in the 5-star hotel where the IOC members _ including those expelled _ are staying, Ganga said he accepted only token gifts from Salt Lake and paid or tried to pay for other items identified as freebies.
He said he put $70,000 earmarked for African sports programs into his own Utah bank account to avoid currency transfer delays, and that the money wound up where is was supposed to. He said he had documents to prove it.
Gifts such as a refrigerator and fax machine listed in ethics reports as going back to his Brazzaville home were just extra furnishings in a Salt Lake hotel suite he stayed in, put there without his asking, he said.
``You have to be polite,″ he said. ″ You can’t ask them to take it out.″
Ganga said he tried to pay for treatment of hepatitis C at Latter Day Saints Hospital in Salt Lake but was told there was no bill. He produced a letter from Dr. Terry Box, the liver specialist who treated Ganga, confirming his recollection that the African official ``insisted on paying me for my services.″
Salt Lake organizers picked up the tab, but Ganga showed a letter from a Luxembourg insurer, Deutsche Krankenversicherung, that said his medal policy would have covered the treatment and hospitalization in full.
At the same time, he contradicted statements by former Salt Lake Olympic chief Tom Welch that Ganga cleared the hospital stay beforehand with Samaranch.
``Why should I call him? I was paying.″ he said.
Ganga denied that his wife had cosmetic surgery paid for by the bid, although he conceded she had ``problems with skin on her hands″ and may have received some treatment. Knee replacement surgery for his mother-in-law, he said, was arranged by Welch after he visited Ganga’s home and found the woman had to be carried to the bathroom.
To get to Salt Lake for the operation, Ganga said, he paid for tickets for himself, his wife and mother-in-law from Brazzaville to Paris, with Salt Lake flying them the rest of the way on tickets provided as part of Delta Airlines’ sponsorship. Ganga said there was nothing improper about such perks.
``If Salt Lake City had a sponsorship with Delta, what is wrong with that?″ he asked.
He also said that he had found credit-card receipts showing he paid for items such as draperies that had been listed as gifts from Salt Lake. He accused some Utah Olympic workers of seeking reimbursement for items they bought for themselves, singling out Jason Gull, a student at the time and the Ganga’s escort when they were in Salt Lake.
An Utah ethics report said Ganga and his wife maxed out Gull’s credit cards on shopping sprees. That report said Ganga’s activity ``merits special mention.″