The U.S. Olympic Committee finally is giving in to pressure from Congress to release a report on an internal investigation of the scandal surrounding Salt Lake City's bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
"They've been pushing this pretty hard," said Scott Blackmun, the USOC's deputy executive director and general counsel, calling the controversy stirred up over his efforts to keep the report confidential "a tempest in a teapot."Blackmun said the report will be turned over to Congress Thursday by the USOC's Washington, D.C.-based law firm, Hogan & Hartson. The firm conducted the investigation for the USOC shortly after bribery allegations involving Salt Lake City's bid were made late last year.
It is the USOC's relationship with the law firm that Blackmun said would be jeopardized if the report become public. The lawyers promised the past and present USOC employees they interviewed that their comments would be kept confidential.
Some of those comments, Blackmun said, would be embarrassing if made public. But he said there's nothing in the report that hasn't already surfaced in the numerous other investigations into the Salt Lake bid, including one by a special USOC commission.
That commission, headed up by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, was given the report on the USOC's internal investigation. So was the U.S. Justice Department. The House and Senate committees pressing for the report, though, balked at the USOC's insistence that the report be kept confidential.
Blackmun said it became clear to the USOC that the report had to be turned over. He said he doesn't believe the report will result in any action by the congressional committees. But Blackmun does fear the report could be leaked to the media.
"We're proceeding on faith here. The government has not agreed to all the conditions we wanted to place on the delivery of the report," he said. "Once they read it, they probably won't do anything with it . . . . There's nothing in there in my view that hasn't already been reported by the press."
The report did result in the resignation of one USOC official, former international relations director Alfredo LaMont. LaMont told investigators about a lobbying contract he had with former Salt Lake bid leader Tom Welch.
Despite the difficulties caused by the release of the report, Blackmun said he's still glad the USOC did the investigation. "We needed to do it. We need to be sure we had taken a close look (at the USOC's involvement in the bid). We would do it all over again," he said.