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Volume 6 No. 197


The state-run construction company set up to build most of the facilities for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics "has been accused by Russian auditors of unjustified cost inflations" of up to $506M, according to R-SPORT. A chamber report circulated in the upper house of parliament Wednesday read, "An investigation has shown that corporation executives created the conditions for an unjustified increase in the estimated cost of the sports facilities checked by the Audit Chamber." The report claimed that executives from Olympstroi, which is building the entire coastal cluster of facilities, have "taken decisions that increased the cost of facilities without providing any grounds whatsoever for the new calculations, or they were presented without sufficient motivation" (R-SPORT, 3/6).

OFFICIAL LEAVES RUSSIA: In a separate piece, R-SPORT reported an official criticized by President Vladimir Putin for the mismanagement of Sochi Olympic facilities "has left Russia after prosecutors initiated a probe of his firm." Akhmed Bilalov "was publicly censured by Putin earlier this month over delays and cost overruns during his time in charge of the Sochi ski jump complex." Bilalov has left his Sochi 2014 role and "has since resigned as vice-president of the Russian Olympic Committee" (R-SPORT, 3/6).

The Australian Crime Commission's report on doping may have tarnished Australian sport's int'l reputation, but Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates believes that swimming's Stilnox scandal "will have a greater impact on his organisation's ability to raise sponsorship to support the 2016 Olympic team," according to Nicole Jeffery of THE AUSTRALIAN. Coates said that he "had a lot of explaining to do" when he attended the IOC's exec board meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland last month because the claim that doping was widespread in the major professional sports in Australia "had been misinterpreted as applying to all sport." Coates said, "I got a lot of questions, but I was certainly able to explain it." But Coates is more concerned about the AOCs reputation in the domestic commercial market as a result of behavioral issues at the London Olympics, primarily in the swimming team. He said, "Our sponsors know we take a very strong position on doping ... But certainly some of the behavior aspects of the swimmers, and there was a rower, too, who was sent home, are going to cause some problems" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/6).

STAYING TOUGH: REUTERS' Nick Mulvenney reported Coates, who will be looking to raise A$40.2M ($41.13M) through marketing ahead of the next Summer Olympics in Brazil in '14, said that "one sponsor had called to congratulate the AOC on the hard line" it was taking on the matter. While Stilnox was very publicly prohibited by the AOC in the lead-up to the Games because of its side-effects, "it is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency" code. Coates said, "The unwashed public out there tend to group it all together as the same. I bet you there's a lot of people in England and places that are salivating. Our friendly rivals" (REUTERS, 3/6).

Japan Wrestling Federation President Tomiaki Fukuda met with IOC inspectors Wednesday evaluating Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Summer Games, "but held back from criticising them for the possible exclusion of his sport," according to the AFP. Fukuda was among those "who expressed outrage after the IOC executive board recommended last month that wrestling not be included" in the 2020 program. "I am in a very, very delicate position now in front of you, IOC members," Fukuda told the group at an arena planned as the venue for wrestling, taekwondo and fencing if Tokyo wins the 2020 Games. "Therefore I can only say thank you very much" for coming, he said (AFP, 3/6).

IN AUSTRALIA: REUTERS' Nick Mulvenney reported Australian IOC Executive Board member John Coates was "amazed" that wrestling was recommended for the axe from the Summer Games last month and thinks the sport still has a very good chance of retaining its place in the program. Coates is one of 14 IOC members "who voted in Lausanne to recommend wrestling be dropped from the Games after 2016." Coates, however, thinks wrestling "will be on the shortlist after the board meets in St. Petersburg in May to decide which of eight candidate sports will proceed to the next stage." Coates told reporters on Wednesday, "I would be very surprised if wrestling isn't one of those (on the shortlist) and you could well get a very different result when there's 115 people voting as opposed to 14" (REUTERS, 3/6).

Nine BBC senior managers "accepted the offer of free tickets and hospitality to the London Games," according to John Plunkett of the London GUARDIAN. Two employees -- former BBC Dir General Mark Thompson and News Group Dir of Operations Dominic Coles -- attended "both the opening and closing ceremonies." Another former Dir General, George Entwistle -- who was still in charge of BBC TV channels as director of vision during the Olympics -- "also went to the opening ceremony," courtesy of the IOC. To many, the hospitality "will be nothing out of the ordinary." However, to the BBC's long-standing critics it might "strike them as an Olympic-sized freebie." Thompson, now N.Y. Times Company CEO, "accepted three free visits to the Olympics -- the opening and closing ceremony with the IOC, and a day at the athletics" on Aug. 5 with National Lottery operator Camelot. Entwistle "also accepted four tickets to the Paralympics," which were broadcast by Channel 4 and were sent to him by Channel 4 CEO David Abraham (GUARDIAN, 3/6).