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BBC accuses senior Olympic figures of corruption

August 04, 2004 12:42 IST

Two senior members of the Olympic movement told undercover journalists posing as business agents they could corrupt the 2012 Olympic bidding process, BBC TV will allege on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, one of those implicated denied the claims to be made during a one hour-long Panorama programme. The other could not be contacted immediately.

Bulgarian International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Ivan Slavkov said he and an agent had been launching their own counter-operation to catch people trying to "entrap" Olympic officials.

In the most damaging scenes from the programme, already the subject of an IOC investigation, Slavkov is shown discussing ways to secure votes for 2012.

The programme also shows Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) director general Muttaleb Ahmad explain how he can influence IOC votes, stirring memories of the Salt Lake City corruption scandal that rocked the movement six years ago.

BBC undercover reporters, posing as consultants acting for London businessmen, ask Slavkov: "Have you already decided where your allegiances lie?"

"Not yet," Slavkov replies.

BBC: "Not yet, so you're open to negotiations?"

Slavkov: "Yes."

BBC: "So how do you encourage people to ... you know ... see the benefits?"

Slavkov: "I would say the different ... you know ... approach, different approach. Some are businessmen and they are interested in favours."

BBC: "Yes, they want favours."

Slavkov: "Yes, in some areas they are interested."

BBC: "So you think you may be able to offer them a business contract or..."

Slavkov: "Yes, yes. The other, the others just are ... they believe in sport."

Slavkov then sits quietly as the reporters hold discussions with the agent, Goran Takatch, who arranged the meeting.

The cost of any help by Slavkov was included in figures previously given by Takatch to the BBC reporters -- a total of up to 3.4 million euros ($4.1 million) for influencing up to 20 IOC members.


Slavkov on Tuesday released a letter he had sent in reply to an inquiry from Panorama after the meeting.

Slavkov, accused in the Salt Lake scandal but later cleared, said he had been approached by Takatch with a plan to "sting" a group of corrupt businessmen, in fact the BBC reporters.

"Having paid a heavy price to media harassment (after 1998), I also felt that the real hooligans should be brought into light, and I accepted to meet with the 'corrupters'," he wrote.

"I could not imagine that they were your paid provocateurs ... Whatever I could say during this meeting was intended to trap the 'corrupters.'"

He added in the letter that Takatch had also informed IOC vice-president Vitaly Smirnov, who had then told IOC president Jacques Rogge about the plan to meet the consultants.

In an interview on Tuesday Smirnov said he warned Takatch not to deal with anybody on matters involving Olympic bids, and added that he had told Rogge about what Takatch had told him.

"He (Rogge) told me that if Goran had been approached he should inform the IOC's ethics commission," Smirnov added. "Then I relayed the message to Takatch and that was it."

Takatch told the Belgrade tabloid Blic on Wednesday he suspected immediately that the people he met purporting to represent British businessmen were crooks.

He said: "They phoned me and said they were consultants of a group of London entrepreneurs, rich men who had a big financial interest in bringing the Olympics to London."

There had been no further contact until July 1 when they met in Sofia where he personally was offered just under one million euros in what he described as a "dirty BBC game".


The IOC investigation into the Salt Lake corruption scandal led to 10 IOC members resigning or being expelled in connection with bribery and to a tightening of the rules governing contact between IOC members and bidding cities.

The Panorama programme also features Ahmad at the OCA headquarters in Kuwait.

He says: "You have to approach the IOC members, not necessarily with an official appointment because they'd shy away from that.

"I always shy away from freely giving cash, I don't do this, okay. I advise that this guy is in need and you ... your assistant has to go to him, I don't act like that."

Ahmad then went through a list of IOC members, ticking off 34 who he considers to be "approachable" and four who are totally under his control, Panorama editor Mike Robinson told a news conference on Tuesday after a preview screening for media.

"And the guy from [word deleted], that person, you give him money he will take the money still, even with those guidelines," Ahmad says in the programme.

Ahmad was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday despite numerous attempts to contact him.

Although the undercover reporters said they were acting for London business interests, the London 2012 bid made clear in a statement on Tuesday the programme contained "no material of direct concern to the London Olympic bid".

London, Paris, New York, Madrid and Moscow are on the shortlist for the 2012 Games. The host city will be named in July 2005 after a vote by IOC members.

Tristan Jones
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