IOC Members Escape With Warning
Mar. 12, 1999
NEW YORK (AP) _ Two leading IOC members, including the highest-ranking official implicated so far, escaped with severe warnings Friday as investigators wrapped up their inquiry of the Olympics' worst scandal.
An internal commission recommended that Kim Un-yong, an executive board member from South Korea, and Phil Coles, a key player in bringing the 2000 Games to Sydney, Australia, be strongly censured for actions displaying serious conflicts of interest or lapses in judgment.
It warned that they could be expelled if misconduct recurred. And the chief investigator said he suspected that there was evidence, yet uncovered, that would call for Kim's ouster.
The panel expelled one member, Samoa's Seiuli Paul Wallwork, and handed out lesser warnings to seven others linked to a million-dollar scheme of gifts and favors by Salt Lake bidders to win the 2002 Winter Games. Among them was Vitaly Smirnov, a former IOC vice president from Russia.
Others warned were Shagdarjav Magvan of Mongolia, Anani Matthia of Togo. Louis Guirandou-N'Diaye of Ivory Coast, Mohamed Zerguini of Algeria, Willi Kaltschmitt of Guatemala and Austin Sealy of Barbados.
The report also exonerated three other members _ Henry Edmund Olufemi Adefope of Nigeria, Ashwini Kumar of India and Ram Ruhee of Mauritius.
Nine members resigned or were expelled in the initial phase of the investigation headed by vice president Dick Pound, all of them reaffirmed in the latest report, which focused on evidence developed by ethics panels of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Friday's recommendations must be approved by the IOC's ruling executive board, and all the actions must be approved at a special general assembly of the 105-member committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday and Thursday.
IOC leaders had said for several weeks that the latest batch of alleged infractions were minor compared with the earlier ones. But big money _ and big names _ were still involved, and Pound sometimes sounded like an umpire explaining his strike zone as he repeatedly said the panel's findings were ``evenhanded'' and not a whitewash.
``It's a judgment call,'' the Montreal lawyer said. The panel, he said, tried to distinguish between members who tried to enrich themselves and those ``who were careless about what they should do and not attentive to what people might think.''
The biggest judgment involved Kim, president of both the international Taekwondo federation and the confederation of Olympic sports bodies who has been considered a possible successor to Juan Antonio Samaranch as IOC president.
His case was one of three left open under the initial phase of the inquiry, and he has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. He also has promised to use ``lots of ammunition'' to fight any action against him.
A floor fight over his expulsion could have wrecked the special session, called just to deal with the Salt Lake case and resulting reforms in the IOC's structure.
The Salt Lake report alleged Kim used his Olympic position to help land lucrative jobs in telecommunications and music for his two children _ daughter Kim Hae-jung, a concert pianist, and son Kim Jung-hoon, a satellite TV executive also known as John Kim.
The IOC commission concluded its work on allegations involving concert dates and recording contracts for Kim Hae-jung, which it said ``created at least a very serious appearance of conflict of interest.''
But the investigation remained open on allegations that Kim Un-yong knew that Salt Lake bidders helped pay for a job for his son at Keystone Communications in Utah.
It said it was ``highly unlikely'' that Kim Un-yong did not know of the arrangement, although ``evidence available as of this day is not entirely conclusive.''
``Should the allegations be fully established, which is not the case, the commission would consider that such behavior by an IOC member would justify expulsion from the IOC,'' the report said.
Pound, in a conference call with reporters, said the panel believed ``there is additional evidence still out there,'' but that the commission had to make decisions.
``This has always been a work in progress,'' he said. ``There are times when you have to take a photograph and make a report.''
Kim, in a statement released by his New York-based publicist, said he was ``carefully reviewing the report, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the IOC and the Olympic family toward advancing the goals of the Olympic movement.''
Coles, one of the best-liked members of the clubby IOC, was accused of accepting some $60,000 in travel benefits from Salt Lake bidders, including trips to ski resorts and the Super Bowl.
``The commission considers that Mr. Coles did not, in these circumstances, exercise his best judgment and that his repeated acceptance of benefits from representatives of the (Salt Lake bid committee) should have been avoided,'' it said.
His case was similar to that of Agustin Arroyo, the IOC member from Ecuador who has been ousted, but Pound said there were differences that made Coles' case less severe, most notably the fact that the Australian was legitimately in the United States when the Salt Lake-paid travel began.
Still, Pound said, ``alarm bells'' should have sounded for Coles when offers of trips kept coming.
``At least a warning light should have gone off in his head,'' the investigator said.
Wallwork, an IOC member since 1987 but never in a leadership position, came under investigation after it was revealed his wife, Julia, had borrowed $30,000 from Tom Welch, the former head of Salt Lake's Olympic efforts.
The Salt Lake ethics report said Welch had to withdraw the money from his children's trust funds, and the loan was repaid.
Wallwork told the IOC that he knew nothing about the loan and that he and his wife were separated at the time.
But the Pound commission said faxes about the loan were sent from Welch to Wallwork's office, and that the Wallwork family received $67,585 in travel benefits from Salt Lake bidders.
Pound said his commission had found nothing to call for more expulsions in the responses from 37 cities that bid for the games from 1996 onward.
But he said all of that information should be turned over to a standing ethics panel, part of the reform package due for adoption next week.
He said that panel might also consider the case of Anita DeFrantz, a vice president from the United States. While DeFrantz has repeatedly denied any knowledge of wrongdoing, reports this week quoted Welch and former Salt Lake Olympic vice president Dave Johnson as saying they discussed ``everything'' about the gift program with her.
``We have always said that if there are facts to back up the allegations, we will look at it,'' Pound said. ``But so far she says she did not know. We'll give the benefit of the doubt to Anita at this time.''
While Pound said the IOC would accept its share of ``the allocation of blame'' for the scandal, his report took a shot at the USOC for a lack of oversight on the Salt Lake bidders.
``It is possible that many of the excesses which occurred on this occasion might have been avoided had the USOC been more active in discharging its responsibilities, including the bringing of any violations of the rules to the attention of the IOC,'' it said.
USOC president Bill Hybl said his committee ``has fully accepted its share of the responsibility'' for the Salt Lake scandal and hoped that ``the IOC will match our commitment and action when it votes on its reforms next week in Lausanne.''