SBJ/August 13 - 19, 2001/Olympics

Ex-official pounds IOC in letter

Former IOC marketing head Dick Pound says he had an "ethical responsibility" to alert Olympic sponsors and broadcasters of his concerns regarding the International Olympic Committee's commitment to reform.

Pound, a Canadian who has been the IOC's lead negotiator on sponsorship and television rights deals for the last 15 years, resigned from that position last month after a failed bid to become the IOC's president. He also resigned as head of the World Anti-Doping Agency but later agreed to remain in that post until the end of the year.

He sent a letter, dated July 24, informing Olympic sponsors and broadcasters of his resignation and warning them that he has "grave concerns over the long term future of the Olympic Movement."

In an interview last week, Pound said he could not continue representing the IOC in sponsorship and broadcast rights negotiations because he could not guarantee that the promises he made in the past would be fulfilled.

"I was the guy on the spot in the middle of the Salt Lake crisis," Pound said. "During that time I made a promise to all the sponsors and broadcasters that we would clean this up, and we would institute reforms. I would have hoped that I would be in a position to deliver on that promise."

He said that since sending out the letter, he has heard from several sponsors, both directly and indirectly, who share his concerns.

Pound came in third in the election for the IOC presidency last month with 22 votes. Winner Jacques Rogge received 59 votes, and South Korea's Un Yong Kim, who was implicated in the Salt Lake bid bribery scandal, came in second with 23.

In his letter to Olympic business partners, Pound laid out observations about the vote that he termed troubling. The first was that Rogge was the personal choice of retiring IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. Pound said that he has no personal objection to Rogge, but that Samaranch was at the center of the controversy surrounding the Salt Lake City scandal.

He said the runner-up, Kim, "was one of the two IOC members who received the most severe warnings over improper conduct in the Salt Lake City scandals and whose election tactics were criticized for similar reasons."

Rogge, who is from Belgium, declined to comment when asked about the Pound letter at a news conference last week, but he made a firm declaration of the IOC's commitment to the 50 points of reform that its members voted to adopt in 1999.

Olympic sponsors were also reticent on the issue, as most did not respond to requests for comment.

The Coca-Cola Co., through a spokesperson, said, "Like any political campaign, those involved often choose to interpret the results in various ways. ... We are supportive of Jacques Rogge and his team."

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