Olympic organization `stronger than ever'

Exec says Salt Lake reforms cleanse, add accountability

January 20, 2000|By Jon Morgan | Jon Morgan,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- A top Olympic executive said yesterday that ethics reforms put in place in the wake of the Salt Lake City Games scandal will clean up the process of picking host cities and have left the organization "stronger than ever."

Richard W. Pound, an International Olympic Committee vice president, said, "We used the crisis to accomplish changes that might otherwise have taken years or decades to accomplish."

The Olympics were rocked in 1998 and 1999 by revelations of favors and gifts provided by organizers of Salt Lake City's successful bid to hold the Winter Games in 2002. Subsequent investigations revealed more widespread corruption and sparked inquiries by Congress and threats of cancellation by corporations that had been longtime Olympic sponsors.

As a result, the IOC last year expelled or publicly sanctioned several of its members and prohibited visits by members to cities trying to secure the Games.

"I'm not here to say all the work is completed at the IOC," said Pound, speaking at the Sports Summit, an annual convention of the sports industry. But, he added, "What a difference a year made."

Pound, a Canadian attorney who chaired the IOC's internal investigation of the scandals, said, "The crisis was a failure of governance, not of structure."

He said several reforms have been adopted as a result:

Members of the IOC, who serve as the governing body of the Games and vote on matters such as the selection of host cities, will now have term limits of eight years and must step down by age 70.

The membership of the IOC will be capped at 115, with 15 of those being active athletes elected by their peers.

A permanent ethics commission has been established. The majority of its members will always come from outside the IOC.

Bidding cities, such as Baltimore and Washington, that have filed a joint application to sponsor the 2012 Summer Games, must sign contracts that outline rules of conduct for the IOC and city representatives.

Meetings of the IOC will now be opened to the news media.

"The result of the crisis is that the IOC enters the 21st century renewed -- more transparent, more responsive, and more accountable," Pound said.

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