IOC Member May Have Gotten Jewelry
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ The former wife of embattled IOC member Phil Coles of Australia told the committee today that the couple received jewelry from a Greek businessman connected with Athens’ failed bid for the 1996 Games.
The diamond-and-gold jewelry _ a necklace and cufflinks turned into earrings, all valued at $6,300 _ is at the heart of the latest allegations that Coles repeatedly violated rules limiting gifts from bid cities to $150.
Coles said again today he wouldn’t resign from the IOC. But a senior IOC official said the information probably would force the committee to reopen an ethics inquiry on Coles, who already has received a severe warning in the Salt Lake City bribery scandal and been told that another offense could lead to his expulsion.
Georgina Coles sent a fax to IOC director general Francois Carrard and vice president Dick Pound, saying the jewelry was given to her and her then-husband during a visit to the Greek capital in 1990 ``by a man associated with the Athens bid.″
Athens lost the ’96 race to Atlanta in September 1990.
In the fax, received at IOC headquarters early today from Australia, Georgina Coles said she had the cufflinks turned into earrings. A photo in today’s Sydney Morning Herald showed her wearing what the paper said were those earrings.
She told the two IOC officials this would be her final comment on the matter.
The fax was taken to an IOC executive board meeting but there was no immediate decision on how to proceed, IOC spokesman Franklin Cerven-Schrieber said.
``The IOC has been interested in serious proof,″ he said. ``We still have to see whether all the material evidence is sufficient to see if the investigation should continue or not.″
Pound, who is the head of the IOC’s internal investigation that expelled six members in the Salt Lake case, said before the board meeting that he had not seen the fax and could not comment. He said Thursday that he would wait for Georgina Coles to provide information before deciding weather to investigate.
But another board member on the inquiry commission, Belgium’s Jacques Rogge, said the inquiry probably would reopen.
``I imagine so,″ Rogge told Australian Associated Press when asked if the investigation would resume.
John Coates, the president of the Australian Olympic Committee, also said he expected the inquiry to resume.
``We’ll have to wait for the filing. That will determine if Phil is still and IOC member,″ Coates said. ``It’s very sad for Phil.″
Coles has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and repeated today that he would not resign.
``No, absolutely not,″ he said when asked if he planned to step down from the IOC.
But in Sydney, Olympics boss Michael Knight called on Coles to ``stop the pain″ by quitting the board of SOCOG, the organizing committee for the 2000 Games.
Knight, the SOCOG president, said the IOC had to investigate the jewelry claims.
Coles had stepped aside from the SOCOG board pending the IOC’s inquiry into the Salt Lake City ethics report. Now he wants to come back, although Knight remains strongly opposed.
``I would be very surprised if he walked back into the next SOCOG board meeting,″ Knight said.
``The best thing that Phil could do, in his best interest, to stop all this pain that he’s getting publicly, is to stop bearing that pain and make a decision himself,″ Knight said.
``I feel sorry about Phil’s situation. I feel very sad for Phil Coles. You’ve only got to look at television of him out of Lausanne to see his health’s not good, his demeanor’s not good and he’s obviously very shattered by the whole experience.
``On a human level, you can’t help but feel sorry for him.″
Knight said he and Coles had not talked because Coles is upset at Knight’s recent comments.
SOCOG chief executive Sandy Hollway said the Sydney Games were bleeding because of the controversies.
``I’ve always taken the view that no aspect of these controversies has been helpful,″ Hollway told reporters in Lausanne. ``I’ve said it’s been hurtful, there’s been remorselessly bad publicity.″
``Now (the IOC) clearly have to have some investigation, some form of inquiry into the allegations about Athens and the jewelry,″ Knight said. ``You don’t have to be a rocket- science student looking at this morning’s newspapers to know that some of those stories and photos don’t look terribly good for him whatever the final outcome.″