IOC Scrutinizes Vancouver Olympics Bidding Deal

Four days after dismissing questions about another possible Olympic bidding scandal, the International Olympic Committee says it is seeking further details.

As NPR reported last week, a new book about last year's Vancouver Winter Olympics disclosed an alleged deal that promised Russia's three IOC votes to Vancouver during the 2010 host city selection process.

Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong writes in Patriot Hearts, his Olympic memoir, that Russia's support for Vancouver's bid was exchanged for Vancouver's help with Moscow's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Furlong adds that there was nothing "illegal or unethical" about the arrangement.

In response to an NPR inquiry, IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau wrote that there were not "proper grounds for the IOC Ethics Commission to launch an investigation" because "neither Mr. Furlong nor the people referred to are bound by the IOC's Code of Ethics."

But the ethics code is clear: "The cities wishing to organize the Olympic Games" are among "the Olympic parties" subject to the ethics rules, which go on to say that "the Olympic parties or their representatives shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit, accept or offer ... any concealed benefit or service of any nature, connected with the organization of the Olympic Games."

If that's not clear enough, there's another section that says, "The Olympic parties shall neither give nor accept instructions to vote or intervene."

Moreau added that "these remain unsubstantiated comments that were not brought to the IOC's attention during the 2010 bidding process."

This sounds familiar. In the decade before the 1998 scandal involving Salt Lake City's Olympic bid, the IOC routinely dismissed news reports and bid city claims about corruption as "rumors" that could not be substantiated. The group chose not to investigate those "rumors" then, and it appeared to be making the same choice now.

NPR wrote back to Moreau, quoting in detail the sections of the IOC Code of Ethics that clearly govern bidding city representatives, including Furlong and Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who was involved in Moscow's Olympic bid and whom Furlong names as the dealmaker.

Moreau then responded that the IOC "will endeavor to get back to [NPR] with as much information as possible."

Now comes word from another IOC spokesman, Mark Adams, that the IOC is looking into Furlong's claims after all.

Adams told the Associated Press: "We have written to John Furlong to ask him if he can give us more specifics on the claims made."

Furlong said in his book that he "never doubted for a second Luzhkov would be good for his word," suggesting an agreement to deliver Russia's three IOC votes. As promised, Vancouver Olympic officials helped Moscow prepare its 2016 bid, which was ultimately unsuccessful.

But at an IOC meeting in Prague in 2003, Vancouver won the 2010 Olympic bidding by just three votes.

Adams also told the AP, "There is no investigation by the [IOC] ethics commission at the present time."

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