RAMSAU, Austria (AP) _ Winter sports officials want a major role in choosing Winter Olympic host cities, the president of the International Skiing Federation said Thursday.

``We don't want to take over power, but we think it's the only way to restore the credibility of the International Olympic Committee,'' FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said.

The IOC has been shaken by a corruption probe into cash, lavish gifts and other inducements for IOC members and their relatives before the 1995 vote that awarded the 2002 Winter Games to Salt Lake City.

``The IOC and the national Olympic committees have been quite hurt and damaged and they need to change their structures. They have lost their credibility,'' Kasper said on the eve of the Nordic Skiing World Championships.

The seven winter sports federations want to take the leadership role in restoring the IOC's credibility, Kasper said. He said sports criteria should count for 50 percent in choosing the future sites of Winter Games.

The federations and the IOC's evaluation commission, which makes recommendations to the IOC on bidding cities, should also have a 50-percent say in the final decision and should preselect two candidates from which the final host city would be chosen, Kasper said.

``It's a matter for the IOC but we think it would help them restore their credibility if the selection was based on sporting criteria,'' Kasper said. ``Until now, the IOC has had no criteria, no system. The evaluation commission has been there for only five years.''

Basing the decision on sporting criteria would ``make it much less possible to have corruption,'' he said.

Under the current system, Olympic cities are selected by a vote of the entire IOC membership.

Kasper said FIS would make its proposal official at the emergency IOC session next month, where delegates will vote on possible changes in the selection of the 2006 Winter Games site.

Six European cities are bidding for the 2006 Games, due to be awarded at an IOC session in June.