Another Olympic Bidding Scandal?
Twelve years after the Salt Lake Olympic bidding scandal rocked the world's biggest sporting event, another possible bidding scandal is brewing.
New revelations about the bidding for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver indicate possible violations of International Olympic Committee (IOC) ethics rules, which were bolstered in the wake of the Salt Lake City scandal.
The revelations come in a new book written by John Furlong, the CEO of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee. It's officially due out Saturday (Feb. 12), which is the first anniversary of the Vancouver games. But reports based on excerpts disclose an alleged secret deal for Russia's three IOC votes in the campaign to host the 2010 Olympics.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams tells NPR, "So far we have not had a look at [Furlong's book] or its contents."
Around the Rings (ATR), an independent news service focused on the Olympics, quotes Furlong describing a 2003 meeting with Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who led his city's campaign to host the 2012 Summer Olympics.
"Luzhkov said the country wanted our help with the planning of its bid (for Summer 2012)," Furlong said. "We talked about the deal we had earlier worked out with Russian officials."
The deal involved a customized Olympic bidding seminar for Russian Olympic officials conducted by the Vancouver bidding team. "In exchange, Vancouver would get the Russian votes," ATR reports.
"When we shook hands, I never doubted for a second Luzhkov would be good for his word," Furlong writes.
Vancouver won the 2010 IOC bidding by just three votes. Moscow's 2012 bid failed.
"There was certainly nothing illegal or unethical about it," Furlong adds.
But Article 9 of the IOC Ethics Code clearly states that "no promise of any kind of advantage may be made" by cities bidding for the Olympics.
The Ethics Code also says, "No gifts, of whatever value, may be given to or received by Olympic parties…"
Furlong recalls an Olympic meeting in which representatives of a Korean bid for the 2010 Olympics allegedly handed out "bags full of goodies. I saw one delegate pull a watch from one bag. Someone lifted a compact disc player out of another."
If true, these allegations indicate influence peddling survived the Salt Lake scandal and the reforms it prompted.
"The IOC does not tolerate unethical behavior," the IOC's Adams adds, "and remains vigilant in order to protect the accountability of our organization and the values of the Olympic Movement."
But he would not say whether the IOC's Ethics Commission would investigate. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.