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USOC Ethics Report To Be Released

March 1, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ The role of the International Olympic Committee in cleaning up the worst scandal in the history of the games is expected to be a focus of an elite ethics report issued Monday, a source familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.

The panel, headed by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, is likely to suggest ways for the IOC to help avoid a recurrence of the bribery scandal that has erupted around Salt Lake City’s winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

``The report will include some really creative things that the IOC should do to go forward, things we haven’t heard about before,″ the source said.

The IOC already has expelled five members and is investigating 13 others in connection with the scandal. It has announced plans to radically change the way it selects Olympic host cities and even break its historic secrecy by submitting to frequent audits and issuing financial reports.

The Mitchell commission is scheduled to release its report at a news conference Monday morning and was working through the night to finish its findings and recommendations.

The independent inquiry probably won’t contain new revelations of wrongdoing or list millions of dollars in improper inducements to IOC members, as two other investigations already have done.

But Mitchell’s report to the U.S. Olympic Committee will draw a road map for future American bidders that won’t include stops at the gift shop or help in getting athletes from overseas ready to compete.

The Salt Lake scandal, the worst in Olympic history, pointed out those areas ripe for corruption. While Mitchell and his panel, including former White House chief of staff Ken Duberstein and baseball union chief Donald Fehr, have refused to discuss details of their two-month investigation, the former senator from Maine said it would look ahead, not back.

``The emphasis will be on recommendations for rules, compliance and enforcement which we hope, if adopted, will avoid a recurrence of the type of action that lead to the creation of the commission,″ Mitchell said last week.

The report will go to the USOC’s executive committee, which is to announce its response at its own news conference Wednesday in Washington.

Mitchell’s commission is a standing ethics watchdog for the USOC, appointed last year by committee president Bill Hybl. But to underscore the commission’s independence, no USOC officials will share the stage with Mitchell.

While the IOC and Salt Lake City Olympic officials have been damaged in the scandal, the USOC has escaped virtually unscathed. But two areas in which it did take hits are expected to be mentioned by the Mitchell report.

One is staff oversight. Alfredo la Mont resigned as the USOC’s director of international relations last month after it was revealed he did consulting work for Salt Lake bid leader Tom Welch. Olympic sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at the time that La Mont was paid to gather information on IOC members in Latin America.

Another is training programs for foreign athletes. The USOC regularly provides facilities and supervision at its training centers for athletes from other nations, usually from the Third World.

While such programs are seen to epitomize the Olympic ideals of competition and fairness, cases in the United States and Australia showed that they could also be used to help bid committees foster goodwill with attractive packages offered around voting time.

As with the other two reports into Salt Lake released so far, Mitchell’s commission lacked subpoena power and had to rely heavily on public record.

It received almost 200,000 documents from USOC files as well as responses from letters sent to some 400 present and former committee officials and staff members asking about gifts they received from Salt Lake or other cities hoping to be America’s candidate for the 1998 and 2002 Winter Games.

All gifts, which could be a mundane as T-shirts or as extravagant as ski trips, are expected to be banned under upcoming USOC and IOC reforms.

The Mitchell report and USOC response, plus action by a special IOC assembly next month, will be watched closely in Washington.

The Justice Department is investigating possible bribery, mail fraud and tax violations in the Salt Lake scandal, and the Senate Commerce Committee is considering hearings on the Olympics that could be aimed at punishing the IOC.

A decision on Capitol Hill hearings won’t be made until after the IOC session March 17-18, according to a spokeswoman for Commerce Committee vice chairman Sen. Ted Stevens.

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