Coles Resigns From Sydney Committee
Coles Resigns From Sydney Committee
Jun. 14, 1999
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Phil Coles escaped expulsion from the IOC but was stripped of many official duties and forced to resign from the Sydney 2000 organizing committee.
Olympic leaders reprimanded the Australian for ``serious negligence'' in compiling secret memos on his colleagues but ruled today that the offense did not warrant expulsion.
``These are extremely severe (sanctions), just short of expulsion,'' International Olympic Committee director general Francois Carrard said.
Coles _ who was already censured in March for his role in the Salt Lake City scandal _ had faced the possibility of being kicked out of the IOC for further alleged ethical misconduct.
The board proposed that Coles be suspended from serving on any IOC commission or working group for two years.
Coles, 67, a three-time Olympian as a kayaker, has served on the IOC since 1982. He will lose his posts on the marketing and radio and television commissions. But he will continue to attend IOC meetings, vote in the election of Olympic host cities and attend the Sydney Games as an official IOC delegate.
The board said it was maintaining the ``most severe warning'' which Coles received in March for accepting lavish hospitality from Salt Lake City bid officials.
The statement announced that Coles had resigned from the board of the Sydney organizing committee (SOCOG). Sydney organizers have repeatedly pushed for Coles to be ousted from the local panel.
The IOC gave Coles an ultimatum _ quit the SOCOG post or be forced out of it. But Coles' seat on the IOC was never threatened.
Carrard said the IOC decision was taken by the executive board Sunday and Coles was given the option to resign from the Sydney board. He said Coles notified the IOC of his resignation in a phone call Monday.
``It was not a shabby deal,'' Carrard said. ``He decided to resign.''
The executive board said it found no ``sanctionable offense'' in the fact that Coles and his partner, Patricia Rosenbrock, had written memos on IOC members. Many of the notes contained very personal comments on the likes and dislikes of IOC members and their spouses.
The memos, prepared for the Sydney bid committee, were apparently passed on to Salt Lake bidders _ although Coles and Ms. Rosenbrock denied supplying them.
``By not taking all necessary precautions to avoid the disclosure of such notes, Mr. Coles was guilty of serious negligence,'' an IOC statement said.
But Carrard said there ``has never been talk of corruption in connection with Mr. Coles,'' and that he never profited from his acts.
The official report on the case suggested Coles would be kicked out of the IOC in the event of any further violations.
Coles had temporarily stepped aside from SOCOG in February after being implicated in the Salt Lake vote-buying case. He was later stripped of his role in organizing the Olympic torch relay in Australia.
But SOCOG chief Michael Knight and other Australian Olympic officials have demanded that Coles leave for good, claiming the scandal was detracting from the games and scaring away sponsors.
Under Olympic rules, Coles had an automatic seat on the Sydney board as one of two IOC members from Australia.
Carrard said Coles needed to have a ``perfect working relationship'' with the Sydney committee, and his resignation ``contributed to an easing of tension.''
Australian executive board member Kevan Gosper said, ``I sincerely hope this closes a very unfortunate chapter. I think Phil Coles did the right thing.''
In Sydney, Coles charged that ``political pressures'' had forced him off the SOCOG board but said he was relieved he will keep his IOC position.
``It's been quite an exhausting and nightmarish experience and there has been an orchestrated move to discredit me and have me removed,'' he said.
Coles said he believed Knight had forced his resignation.
``I put it on the table to the IOC that I was open for a meeting with Michael Knight, which obviously wasn't accepted by him, so I resigned,'' Coles said. ``There was never any suggestion that I would resign from the SOCOG board to keep my role with the IOC, never.''
Coles was expected to arrive in Seoul on Tuesday to attend the IOC general assembly.
His resignation was welcomed by SOCOG chief executive Sandy Hollway, among those who have urged him to quit.
Hollway said Coles' departure means ``we have now tied off the last significant strand of controversy affecting the Sydney Games. I'm very glad the IOC has drawn a line under this sad episode.''
The Coles case has overshadowed other issues as the IOC meets in Seoul for a three-day executive board meeting, followed by a four-day session of the general assembly.
The centerpiece of the session is Saturday's selection of the host city for the 2006 Winter Games. Six European cities are in the running.