The leadership of the International Olympic Committee intends to open its weekend session to reporters, allowing them to watch every step of the organization's pivotal year-end reform process, including show-of-hands votes on 50 reform topics.

Such a meeting would be unprecedented for the IOC, which always has conducted its business behind closed doors and frequently has relied on secret ballots, thereby keeping the media and public in the dark about its innermost workings.

However, IOC Director General Francois Carrard said the plan could be scrapped if many members of the IOC's 102-person body raise objections at the outset of the meetings to open sessions or open voting.

"I hope it will be open, that's by far our preference," Carrard said. "We are learning, you know."

Whether to hold open meetings in the future is among the reform issues members will vote on Saturday and Sunday as the IOC tries to demonstrate that it has overcome the vote-buying scandal that erupted last December over Salt Lake City's bid for the 2002 Olympics.

Samaranch Dismisses Story

IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch dismissed a front-page article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal that drew a link between his apparent willingness to embrace reform during this crisis and the manner in which he allegedly distanced himself from the fascist regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco after Franco's death in 1975.

Samaranch, whose non-military ties to the Franco regime as a minister of sport and in other positions have long been known, said today, "I consider the International Olympic Committee and its president are very much important to get this coverage." He added, "I think in this moment we need an agency in the United States to try to help in public relations."

Samaranch said he admired Franco for three achievements: preventing Spain from entering World War II, transforming the country into an industrial nation and choosing the next head of state to be the King of Spain.

Pound Short on Information

IOC Vice President Dick Pound finally managed last week to convince U.S. drug czar Barry McCaffrey that Pound can lead--at least temporarily--the IOC's proposed world anti-doping agency without jeopardizing its independence. Today, however, Pound showed he lacked command of crucial information and recent news on the anti-doping front.

Pound confessed to having no knowledge of the IOC's announcement this summer that it would employ blood testing--on at least a voluntary basis--of athletes at the 2000 Games in Sydney. That decision came out of an executive board meeting Pound said he did not attend.

"I read that somewhere," Pound said when asked about blood testing at the 2000 Games. "I didn't know we were doing it. . . . Unless it's something I don't know about, we wouldn't have the facility to do it."

Pound also said one of the difficulties in the IOC's arrangement for the validation of proposed tests for two as-yet undetectable performance-enhancing drugs--erythropoietin and human growth hormone, which several researchers claim to have developed tests for--was that "I don't know who the best researchers are in this field."