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Charges have no bad news for IOC

Members receive reassurance on Welch, Johnson indictment

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International Olympic Committee members have been advised that the U.S. Department of Justice apparently has no new information connecting them to Salt Lake City's tainted bid for the 2002 Winter Games.

IOC Director General Francois Carrard told members in a letter that there was "nothing new" contained in the criminal charges filed July 20 against former bid leaders Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, according to Marc Hodler, a senior IOC member from Switzerland.

"Carrard informed the members he received the document. He found there was nothing new," Hodler, a lawyer best known for being the first to use the word "bribe" in connection with the Salt Lake scandal, said Monday in a telephone interview from his home in Bern.

Hodler agreed with the assessment of the IOC's top administrative official.

"There is nothing much new. There is a lot of confirmation," Hodler said of the indictment, which he reviewed after receiving a copy from the Deseret News. "We have been interested to see who has been involved on behalf of the IOC."

No new names surfaced in the court document. Of the 15 members cited in the indictment, five were expelled, four resigned, four were sanctioned and two died before the scandal surfaced.

IOC spokesman Franklin Servan-Schreiber declined to make the letter public. "What I read is that no IOC members were targeted by the indictment," he said. "We told them the position of the IOC is we don't want to interfere by commenting because . . . nothing has been concluded yet. Most (IOC members) don't understand the American juridical system. They may think, 'Oh, it's over.' It's not over."

Hodler said 100-plus current IOC members have nothing to fear from the U.S. Department of Justice. It might be a different story, however, for those who were forced out of the Swiss-based organization.

"Those who are not anymore on the IOC have that risk," Hodler said, adding that it is up to federal investigations whether to pursue them. "I don't know what the Department of Justice will decide." The FBI has issued a statement saying its criminal investigation into the bid campaign is continuing, but federal authorities have declined to comment on the possibility of additional indictments.

To date, five people have been charged in connection with the scandal, including the son of Un Yong Kim, a powerful IOC member from South Korea, a Salt Lake businessman and a former U.S. Olympic Committee official.

The information in the indictment about the inducements given by Salt Lake bidders to IOC members came from a document prepared by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the IOC's own internal investigation, Hodler said.

"It's quite clear everything has been revealed by the document," which was turned over to the IOC in December 1998. "It was brought to us by Frank Joklik and Dave Johnson and it was studied by the (IOC) Executive Board."

IOC leaders quickly empaneled a special committee to investigate the allegations, which led last year to 10 members either being expelled or forced to resign and another 10 being reprimanded by their peers.

Hodler said the fact that the indictment contains no new information about the activities of IOC members should satisfy critics of the process "in the case of Salt Lake City . . . that is clear."

But he also pointed out that the indictment only deals with Salt Lake City's bid. He has said in the past that other bid campaigns, including Atlanta's successful effort to land the 1996 Summer Games, also crossed the line.

Critics have said the IOC has not yet dealt with all its members who have helped themselves over the years to the largess of bid cities — just those who were caught taking cash, gifts, trips and scholarships from Salt Lake City.

IOC members have been clearly worried about the federal investigation, going so far as to cancel plans to meet in Salt Lake City earlier this year after being warned by Carrard they could face questioning if they came to the United States.

Carrard's letter on the indictments, dated July 21, was described as a typical administrative update by Jacques Rogge, an IOC Executive Board member from Belgium who served on the IOC's investigative panel.

Asked if the letter appeared to be an attempt to reassure members, Rogge said that was not the case. "Absolutely not. There was absolutely not a reassuring tone" to the letter. "I think it was a very neutral letter."

He said IOC members are no longer concerned about being drawn into the case. "There might have been some question among the membership about being subpoenaed, but that was some time ago," Rogge said.

He, too, said the IOC's own investigation "left no stone unturned." Except for the allegations in the indictment concerning a Salt Lake Organizing Committee sponsor, identified by attorneys in the case as Jet Set Sports, a New Jersey-based travel agency.

"This came out of the blue for us because we did not have access to bank accounts," Rogge said. Unlike the FBI and other federal agencies investigating the bid activities, the IOC had no power to force witnesses to come forward with information.

According to the Justice Department, Welch and Johnson secretly obtained envelopes of cash totaling $131,000 from the sponsor on four different occasions for unidentified personal purposes.

Welch and Johnson were charged with 15 felony counts stemming from what authorities describe as a scheme to make over $1 million in direct and indirect payments to IOC members to influence them to vote for the Salt Lake bid.

The pair are scheduled to make their first court appearance Monday.

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