International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch plans to meet with federal investigators to discuss the Justice Department's ongoing investigation of the year-old Olympic bribery scandal, IOC sources said today. But IOC officials are negotiating for a meeting early next year rather than next week, when Samaranch will testify before Congress.
Samaranch would be the seventh IOC member to be interviewed in connection with the vote-buying scandal surrounding Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 Olympics. IOC Director General Francois Carrard said today that six members have met with U.S. investigators thus far.
"These are not members, to my knowledge, likely to be involved in misconduct," Carrard said. ". . . Mr. Samaranch is not a target of any investigation so there is no need to negotiate for any immunity. We're talking dates and so forth."
Samaranch requested a later meeting because of a busy schedule next week, according to a source. After the IOC completes its year-end session this weekend, during which members will vote on an extensive reform package, Samaranch will fly to Washington for a hearing Wednesday in front of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation. A day later, he plans to be back in Spain to attend to business involving the bank of which he is chairman of the board.
"The IOC has always said and confirmed that it would cooperate with the Department of Justice," Carrard said. "Some members have been interviewed by the Department of Justice and things are going smoothly."
The Justice probe has resulted in two indictments, one against John Kim, the son of IOC executive board member Un Yong Kim of Korea. The younger Kim was charged in September with making false statements to the FBI and using immigration documents that were fraudulently obtained.
Because of the federal investigation, the IOC's recent decision to consider moving its executive board meetings from Salt Lake City next February to Sydney has led to speculation that the organization has been trying to duck the FBI. Carrard has denied that is the case and said today the executive board likely will postpone its decision on where to hold the meeting until January. He also said no further IOC-related action is expected against Uh Yong Kim despite the indictment of his son.
Both Un Yong Kim and John Kim have maintained their innocence. Un Yong Kim, however, received a severe warning from the IOC on the basis of its internal probe. Ten other members resigned or were expelled. The IOC concluded there was insufficient evidence that U -Yong Kim was aware of improper activities to expel him.
IOC Is Ineligible
The IOC's request to be governed by the international bribery laws of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development was denied Monday, but OECD Secretary General Donald J. Johnston told the IOC in a letter that he would suggest the OECD broaden its scope to include non-governmental groups such as the IOC. The IOC had requested inclusion under the anti-bribery statutes to satisfy a reform request made both by the Congress and an ethics panel led by former Senate majority leader George Mitchell.
Sydney vs. Reebok
IOC marketing head Michael Payne said today that Sydney organizers made strategic and legal errors in trying to negotiate a marketing deal with Reebok International, but Payne more sharply criticized the sporting equipment company for airing its gripes in public. Reebok announced today that it would terminate its sponsorship with Sydney organizers for making deals with rival suppliers.
"I do think it has been blown totally out of proportion," Payne said.
Earlier in the day, the Sydney Olympic Games Organizing Committee fired its marketing director, Paul Reading, who was blamed for a ticket controversy in which 2000 Games tickets were sold at three times their face value.