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Would-be IOC president gets barbed warning

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In an indirect slap at his would-be South Korean successor, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch stressed Monday that bans on visits to Olympic bid candidates should remain in place.

"We canceled the visits because they served no purpose. We were the only sporting organization to make them," Samaranch said. "This is not a decision of the president, it is a decision of the (members) and I believe they will be wise enough to maintain this policy."

The IOC scrapped member visits to cities vying to host the Games in the wake of the 1999 Salt Lake City bribery scandal.

And while that reform is backed by many IOC members, South Korea's Un Yong Kim has argued that the visits should be restored because the current technical evaluation report is insufficient.

Kim, 70, is one of the front-runners to succeed Samaranch who leaves office July 16 after 21 years at the head of the IOC. Belgium's Jacques Rogge and Canada's Dick Pound are the South Korean's main rivals.

Looking back on his office, Samaranch said the reforms implemented in the wake of the 1999 Salt Lake City bribes-for-votes scandal had left the organization stronger by widening its base from national VIPs to include heads of major international sports federations and athletes.