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Salt Lake scandal will 'end' soon, Olympic official says

Skiers flock to Utah's slopes

CNN's Greg LaMotte reports
Windows Media 28K 56K
Olympic bribery scandal threatens to shrink 2002 Winter Games

January 13, 1999
Web posted at: 10:34 p.m. EST (0334 GMT)

From Correspondent Greg LaMotte

SALT LAKE CITY (CNN) -- While the number of skiers on the slopes of Utah is going up, the number of International Olympic Committee (IOC) members may soon be going down, thanks to burgeoning allegations of bribery.

"We don't exactly know when it began, but I can tell you when it's going to end. It's going to end this month in Lausanne (Switzerland)," says Anita DeFrantz, an IOC vice president from the United States.

January 24 is when the IOC will meet in Switzerland to hear the details of an internal investigation into allegations that some of its members took cash and expensive gifts from the bid committee that brought the 2002 Winter Games to Utah.

Officials of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) have acknowledged that direct cash payments, medical care, expensive gifts and college scholarships were given to IOC members and their families.


"I feel a pain that my colleagues may have abused their power, their privilege, their responsibility," says DeFrantz. "And of course, it's painful to think that it was a group in the United States that may have provided them an opportunity to abuse that responsibility."

"For the most part, members of the Olympic Committee are good, able, honest -- people who are just trying to do something that is good for mankind," says Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt. "But there is a dark corner of corruption that has crept into the Olympic movement."

Four separate investigations are taking place into the allegations. The president and vice president of SLOC have resigned, and scheduled events have been pushed back.

The naming of the mascot for the 2002 Games has been postponed, and the deadline for obtaining sponsorships has been extended.

It is clear that Salt Lake City is interested in putting the scandal behind it as quickly as possible.

"We will be known as the Olympics that made positive changes throughout the Olympic movement by being forthcoming, by bringing things out into the open," says SLOC spokeswoman Shelley Thomas. "That's not bad."

Construction continues for the 2002 events. The IOC has said regardless of what happens, Utah will not lose the Olympic Games.

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