Embattled Mankamyer resigns as USOC head

She steps aside to end panel's bitter infighting

Olympics

February 05, 2003|By THE NEW YORK TIMES

NEW YORK M-y Marty Mankamyer resigned as the president of the embattled U.S. Olympic Committee last night, saying that she has neither the resources nor the energy to continue to battle against the onslaughts of my detractors.

Mankamyer, 69, faced a no-confidence vote on Saturday by the organizations executive committee, the result of a campaign by some top officials to force her to step down.

"This is a time when the USOC needs to refocus on its priorities and get away from public displays of disagreement," she said in an e-mail message to Olympic committee officials and the media. "There seemed to be no possibility for peace unless I stepped aside."

The news brings new turmoil to an Olympic panel already deeply split by opposing factions M-y those who support Mankamyer and those who support Lloyd Ward, the organizations chief executive. Ward was investigated last month on conflict of interest charges.

Ward avoided severe sanctions following the ethics investigation; he was found to have "created the appearance of a conflict of interest" for directing a staff member to advance a proposal from his brother and a friend to provide backup power for the Pan American Games in August in Santo Domingo.

In the aftermath of that finding, Mankamyer appeared to gain strength. But behind the scenes a group of seven top Olympic Committee officials, including the organizations five vice presidents, had tried to persuade her to resign for what they said was undermining Ward and interfering in the ethics panels work. Last night, they finally succeeded.

Mankamyers resignation came on the day that the Denver Post reported that as a USOC vice president, she had demanded part of a real estate agents commission for the 2001 sale of property by another agent to Ward.

She said in her e-mail message that the article "alleging unethical conduct, is totally incorrect, and I have 25 pages of documents to refute the statement, but in reality no one wanted to read or hear the truth."

Before Mankamyer's resignation, one board member said of the real estate allegation, "If this is true, shes gone."

In the Denver Post article, a Colorado Springs real estate agent, Brigette Ruskin, was quoted as saying that Mankamyer demanded part of the commission that Ward paid to Ruskin. Ruskin said she paid Mankamyer the fee even though she contended that Mankamyer had nothing to do with Wards purchase of a 1.3-acre lot for $475,000 in Colorado Springs, the USOCs headquarters city, in late 2001. Mankamyer is also a real estate broker there."

Last night, before she resigned, Mankamyer denied the accusation, saying that Ward had proposed how the commission would be split.

The USOC's leadership and ethics crisis was the subject of a hearing last week before the Senate Commerce Committee. Several senators deplored the infighting between Ward and Mankamyer and vowed to streamline the top-heavy organization by amending the 1978 federal Amateur Sports Act.

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