WASHINGTON -- A United States Olympic official has asked the White House to place the International Olympic Committee under federal law to help "level the playing field for all competing cities."
Bill Hybl, U.S. Olympic Committee president, sent a letter to President Clinton yesterday requesting that the IOC be declared a "public international organization," subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
"The USOC should take the lead in this effort, and we would fully expect all other Olympic nations to support this initiative," Hybl said yesterday at a news conference in Washington.
Hybl's request came as part of the USOC's answer to a scathing ethics report issued Monday by the inquiry panel led by former Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell. That report criticized Olympic administration at all levels, from local to international.
The USOC Executive Committee has adopted the policy changes recommended by that commission, including tighter controls on American cities seeking to play host to the Games, a ban on assistance funds to IOC members and foreign athletes, and creation of an Office of Compliance to oversee U.S. bids.
In addition, USOC meetings will be opened to the public and committee members will be required to attend 75 percent of their committees' meetings.
The Mitchell investigation was one of several that followed the implication of 30 of 114 IOC members in possible improprieties related to Salt Lake City's bid for the 2002 Winter Games. Members of the Salt Lake City bid committee allegedly offered $1.2 million in cash, scholarships and other gifts to IOC members and their relatives in exchange for favorable votes for its bid.
Hybl said USOC oversight of Salt Lake bidders had been "abysmal." USOC executive director Dick Schultz said the scandal was "embarrassing."
Schultz said he and Hybl had called IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch yesterday to tell him about the USOC's policies.
USOC officials say it is unclear what will be the first visible effects of the new policies on cities bidding on the 2012 Summer Games, including Washington-Baltimore, which is competing with San Francisco, Dallas, Cincinnati, Houston, New York, Los Angeles and Tampa-Orlando, Fla.
The USOC will choose a U.S. candidate city in 2002, and the IOC will award the Games in 2005.
"I think the USOC is to be commended for moving so quickly in adopting and committing to implement the recommendations of Senator Mitchell and his board of inquiry," said Tom Cooney, a spokesman for the Washington-Baltimore Coalition.
"I think as a result of this process, people anticipated there would be much tighter scrutiny," Cooney said. "As far as the Washington-Baltimore Coalition is concerned, we welcome it. We have committed to being as transparent as possible."
Pub Date: 3/04/99