The U.S. Olympic Committee executive board will meet in two weeks to consider the future of CEO Lloyd Ward, who faces conflict-of-interest charges for allegedly directing USOC officials to assist his brother's company in attempts to sell power generators in the Dominican Republic for the 2003 Pan American Games.
USOC President Marty Mankamyer called the Jan. 13 meeting in Denver in response to charges raised in yesterday's editions of the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Ward tried to help the Detroit-based Energy Management Technologies sell as much as $4.6 million worth of microturbines for the Aug. 1-17 Games in Santo Domingo.
Mankamyer called the allegations "serious and disturbing" in a statement and said the USOC's ethics oversight committee had begun a formal review of the situation.
Ward, a former CEO at Maytag who was hired by the USOC 14 months ago, has been dogged by controversy in recent months. Some USOC officials raised objections to his membership at Augusta National Golf Club, which excludes women members, and his failure to disclose it when he was hired. Yet Ward has pledged to work to bring about the inclusion of women and received a vote of confidence from the USOC executive board in November.
Ward said he was unaware of any ethics violation on his part and was eager to address the executive committee. Though he declined to discuss the situation in detail, he said he had no intention of stepping down.
"I'm going to present all of the facts in the appropriate form and the appropriate setting," Ward said. "All of this, whatever concerns and issues, are going to be addressed in the upcoming meeting. . . .
"My view of the facts, my reputation and everything I stand for is above board. There is literally nothing going on under the table."
The Los Angeles Times reported that Ward directed Hernando Madronero, the USOC's former director of international relations, who was fired by Ward in October, to see him about a proposal from Energy Management Technologies in Detroit, a company that lists Ward's brother Rubert Ward as president on some documentation. The Times also reported that Lorenzo Williams, an Energy Management Technologies official, was accused by a member of the Pan American Games organizing committee of offering a bribe to organizing committee officials, a charge he denied. No deal was ever consummated.
The Times also reported that Ward declared on July 1 that he had no actual or potential conflicts of interest on annual disclosure forms.
The accusations represent the latest charges of misconduct that have swirled around the organization. USOC officials were linked to the Salt Lake Olympic scandal in 1999, in which some $1 million in gifts and favors allegedly were promised to International Olympic Committee officials in exchange for their votes for Salt Lake to hold the 2002 Winter Games. Last May, former USOC president Sandra Baldwin resigned after it was revealed that she falsified her resume.
"In the aftermath of the bid city controversies, and in a current climate in our nation in which business executives are subjected to intense scrutiny, the USOC is sensitive to these issues and the serious allegations," Mankamyer said.
If Ward is forced to step down, his departure would throw the organization into what has become an almost customary leadership crisis. Ward's predecessor, Norm Blake, was forced out of the job in October 2000 after just nine months in the post. Baldwin had been president for just 18 months.
Ward's fate will be in the hands of the 22-member executive committee, a notoriously fickle and diverse group. Several members said yesterday they had few details about Ward's alleged conflicts and had not formed opinions on the situation.
"I'm just learning it bit by bit," said executive committee member Anita DeFrantz. "I would like to read this document to fully understand and then I would probably have some questions."