Kenya's Mukora Resigns His Membership in IOC
By Karl Vick
NAIROBI, Jan. 27 – The Olympic bidding scandal claimed another African delegate today when Charles Mukora, a Kenyan, announced his resignation from the International Olympic Committee.
Mukora, accused by an IOC investigating committee of accepting $34,000 in direct payments from Salt Lake City organizers in exchange for voting to award the city the 2002 Winter Games, called himself "an innocent victim of circumstance."
"However," he told a news conference here, "the president of the International Olympic Committee has advised us to tender our resignations before March 17-18 in order to put these allegations to rest."
Mukora, who also heads the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, was among six members recommended for expulsion Sunday by the IOC executive board. In announcing the sanctions, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch strongly encouraged the six to resign, urging them to "put an end to this ugly chapter in the history of the Olympic Games." An emergency meeting of the full IOC membership has been scheduled for March to vote on the expulsions.
Mukora called his resignation a reluctant concession to political realities. He insisted the $34,000 Salt Lake organizers paid to "The Charles Mukora Sports Foundation" was spent on training facilities tailored for Kenya's famed distance runners.
"The monies that I am alleged to have received as regards to Salt Lake City were monies paid toward the establishment of high altitude training camps in Nanyuki," Mukora said, naming a town at the base of Mount Kenya. "I have not used the monies for my personal use."
In neighboring Uganda, another embattled IOC member made a similar plea. Retired Maj. Gen. Francis Nyangweso – though not among those named in the Salt Lake scandal – is trying to beat back reports that he joined Mukora in swinging the 2000 Summer Games to Sydney. Lead Sydney organizer John Coates last week told reporters that he offered inducements totaling $70,000 to the two delegates on the eve of the Sept. 23, 1993, vote – which Sydney eventually won over Beijing by two votes.
In his Kampala office, Nyangweso showed a reporter an apologetic fax from Coates, who assured the Ugandan that the episode had been distorted. The inducement, Nyangweso said, was not cash but a promise of spending on training facilities that organizing committees routinely offer to developing countries being courted for Olympic participation. Nyangweso also denied the offer was made on the eve of the vote, although he acknowledged dining with Coates and Mukora, among others, that night.
"There was no money passing under the table at that dinner," Nyangweso said. "I will not tell you who I voted for. I had many options, but all of them had the same offers. And all of these offers were mentioned in open session in front of all the delegates."
Of the 13 IOC members named by the investigative panel, seven are Africans, a sensitive point given that the continent had only 19 representatives among the IOC's 115 members when the scandal began.
Four Africans – Mukora, Jean-Claude Ganga of the Republic of Congo, Zein El Abdin Ahmed Abdel-Gadir of Sudan and Lamine Keita of Mali – were among the six recommended for expulsion. David Sibandze of Swaziland and Libya's Bashir Mohammed Attarabulsi already had resigned. Louis Guirandou-N'Diaye of the Ivory Coast is one of three members still under investigation.
According to the IOC, Keita "knowingly permitted" Salt Lake organizers to funnel $97,000 – the largest amount specified in the scandal – to support his son at the University of Utah.
Keita told the Swiss daily Le Matin that he will not resign. "I'm a fighter by nature," he said. "I'm going to defend myself. The statutes give us the right."
The other two members recommended for expulsion are Agustin Arroyo of Ecuador and Sergio Santander of Chile. Anton Geesink of the Netherlands received a warning. Pirjo Haeggman of Finland resigned this past week. Kim Un Yong of South Korea and Vitaly Smirnov of Russia remain under investigation.
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