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Man who led Salt Lake's Olympic bid denies wrongdoing

Says payments to Olympic officials weren't bribes

January 10, 1999
Web posted at: 9:57 p.m. EST (0257 GMT)

In this story:

SALT LAKE CITY (CNN) -- The man who spearheaded Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics says he did nothing wrong in providing gifts and cash payments to members of the International Olympic Committee.

"We never bribed anybody. We never bought a vote," Tom Welch said in an interview published Sunday in the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper. "We made contributions out there as part of the Olympic family, as an obligation we have ... It was the responsible thing to do."

Welch also insisted that the hierarchy of the bid committee, including former Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) President Frank Joklik, was aware of cash payments and gifts given to International Olympic Committee (IOC) members, something Joklik has previously denied.

"They knew everything we were going to do," Welch said. "I never did anything I am embarrassed about, or that I felt was wrong or that I felt was hidden or not disclosed to (Joklik) and the board."

Welch denies prostitutes hired for IOC members


After spearheading Salt Lake City's bid to victory in 1995, Welch served as head of SLOC until 1997, when he resigned after being charged with spousal abuse. He remained on the payroll as a consultant.

On Friday, Joklik and SLOC Senior Vice President David Johnson resigned and two other top officials were put on paid leave after revelations of direct cash payments of as much as $70,000 to IOC members.

SLOC also decided to terminate Welch's $10,000-per-month consulting contract and strip him of a $500,000 pension -- actions which Welch told the Deseret News he will fight.

Welch also vehemently denied recent reports that people involved in the bid may have paid for prostitutes for IOC members.

"I'm offended to the core ... at some of the wild allegations, like the escort services and that type of thing, which is not true," he said.

Cash given to IOC members

However, Welch did admit giving $50,000 in cash to Jean-Claude Ganga, an IOC member from the Republic of Congo. He said Ganga wanted the money to help children ravaged by civil strife. "That's where I think the money went," Welch said.

Welch also told the Deseret News that he secured medical care for Ganga when he was sick with hepatitis and for Ganga's mother when she had an infected knee.

"I never hesitated. Was that wrong? I'd do it again," he said.

He also acknowledged that the bid committee made a $10,000 contribution to the campaign of Chilean IOC member Sergio Santander Fantini, who was running for mayor of Santiago.

Revelations embarrass Mormon heartland

Four separate investigations are under way into the burgeoning scandal, including an internal probe by SLOC and investigations by the IOC, the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Justice Department.

The revelations have proven particularly embarrassing in Salt Lake City, which is best known as the worldwide headquarters of the conservative Mormon Church.

"What's unfolding here is evidence that the people who were working to secure the Olympics for Salt Lake City would stop at nothing. They would sell out every value the community holds dear," Salt Lake City Council member Deede Seed told the New York Times. "We will have to deal with the consequences for years."

Calgary offers to step in as host

IOC and USOC officials have insisted that the 2002 Winter Olympics won't be moved from Utah. But the Deseret News reported that the Canadian city of Calgary, which hosted the Games in 1988, has offered to step in. Many of its Olympic venues remain operational.

"Should the need arise, Calgary has always made it known to sport federations and to the Olympic Committee that it's here to serve winter sports," said Terry Bullick, spokeswoman for Calgary's 2010 Olympic bid committee.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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