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Rana was besmirched long before Salt Lake

"I can assure you that the problems inherent to corruption was born from people in Salt Lake City. We (the IOC) will always have been besmirched. I am sorry to say this is something that comes from that wonderful country, the United States of America." -- Mario Vazquez Rana, president of National Olympic Committees

I don't know what rock Mario has been sleeping under, but someone should tell him to wake up. He owns 70 newspapers in Mexico. Does he ever read them?Maybe the paper boy couldn't get past the grizzlies. Mario owns two full-grown grizzly bears. They were gifts from the Moscow Olympic organizing committee years ago. They live in his yard. Delivering papers to his mansion must be inconvenient. I imagine that sneaking past a couple of grizzlies every day is a little more challenging than getting past, say, a collie.

Mario, if you had been reading one of those rags you publish, or watching the TV, or listening to the radio -- if you had been paying attention -- you would know that it's already been established as fact that the problem DID NOT start in Salt Lake City, and that the IOC shared a huge part of the blame. We already covered this. Where have you been?

At last count, 10 big shots had been expelled from the IOC's crusty blue-blood club and nine others had been officially warned, whatever that means. In Salt Lake City, two guys took the fall. Score: IOC 19, SLC 2. Which do you think is better? It's like golf: The lower score wins. So, besmirch that, Mario.

Rana and the IOC lectured and scolded Salt Lake's Olympic organizers like school children during a meeting last week in Seoul, South Korea. For the first time an IOC meeting was broadcast on closed-circuit TV to the media, and the old boys at the IOC weren't about to pass up an opportunity like that for a little condescension and face-saving. They waxed indignant for 90 minutes, and SLOC President Mitt Romney had to sit there and take it all.

Asked for his reaction afterward, Romney said he'd have to make sure the translation was correct before he commented. Like any good football coach, he wanted to see the film first.

As it turned out, the translation was correct; what we heard was what they said. Even the besmirched part.

No one was more sanctimonious than Rana. He said Salt Lake City has a lot to make up for because of the bribery scandal -- "(Salt Lake) has to do more than the normal effort to erase the problem created in the Olympic movement."

I suppose you know what this means. Yep, back to Wal-Mart. The normal effort would be one trip to Wal-Mart; more than the normal effort will mean two trips. The normal effort is a couple of doorknobs; more than the normal effort means having a door and a house attached to them. And so it goes: Instead of a couple of retrievers, we give them Lassie. Instead of a golf club, we give them a country club. Instead of a violin, we give them the orchestra. Instead of shotguns, we give them Uzis.

Not that Rana would ever accept or give gifts (also known as "bribes"). OK, other than grizzlies. And other than the gold Rolex diver's watch he gave to Fidel Castro. That's what we know about.

Rana, by the way, is worth between $500 million to $1 billion -- that's as close as reporters can estimate, but you get the idea. He could buy Mexico and have change left over. He lives in what's described as a "fortress" outside of Mexico City, with a soccer field and tennis courts. He is reported to be consumed with positioning himself to replace his Olympic holiness, Juan Antonio Samaranch, his benefactor and meal ticket.

Thanks to Samaranch, Rana wormed his way into the IOC. Samaranch brought him into the fold when everyone advised against it. In a vote of the IOC, 13 voted in Rana's favor, nine opposed and an unheard-of 60 abstained. Rana has also scratched Samaranch's back. A couple of years ago, when the IOC voted to uphold an age limit that would force Juan Baby into retirement, Rana did some back-room strong-arming and, presto, just like that the age-limit was removed with a show of hands (there was no taking chances with a secret ballot).

Rana: One more reason to love the IOC.

Apparently, Rana has failed to notice that bribery between the IOC and Olympic cities has been discovered in Atlanta, Nagano, Japan, and Sydney, Australia, which means the common denominator is . . . the IOC. The IOC had to create its own mail room in Nagano just to ship all its booty home. A few months ago, IOC officials sought forgiveness and were willing to share the blame. Now that the heat is off, Rana and his pals seem to be doing the Olympic backpedal.

Rana is acting as if he is protecting the Olympic movement, but really he is protecting his behind, or, if you prefer, his fiefdom. His criticism of Salt Lake City is pretty silly when you consider his history.

In 1988, there were calls to fire Mexico's Olympic officials, most notably Rana, head of the national Olympic committee. Mexico's Olympic organization, under Rana's leadership, was accused in the media of "ineptitude, immorality, special interests, nepotism and political influence at the highest levels of Mexican sport." One newspaper reported, "It's an open secret in Mexican sports, as in politics, that it's not how well you do but who you know that gets you on the (Olympic) team."

In a 1994 article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it was reported that many old-line European IOC members felt that Rana lent credence to the perception that the IOC had been corrupted by power and money.

Sounds like Rana and the IOC got besmirched without any help from Salt Lake City.