Dick Pound, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President is concerned by the lack of action by IOC President Thomas Bach against Carlos Arthur Nuzman, president of the Comitê Olímpico do Brasil, (COB) for payment for Olympic venue votes. Bach is waiting until the completion of a French and Brazilian investigation to make a decision. Pound is concerned that not taking immediate action will risk the authority and image of the IOC, as well as Brazil. Nuzman, a former Olympic volleyball player who represented Brazil in the 1964 games, has been a member of the COB since 1995.
“I think (wait) is a risk for both, both for Brazil and the IOC,” Pound said in response to the hesitation. Pound’s concern stems from the fallout surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games vote-buying scandal where several IOC members were reprimanded including some expulsions.
IOC Integrity at Stake
Pound’s concern is that the evidence is different from administrative compared with criminal requirements for proof. With a lower bar for administrative requirements, the IOC should act immediately to stop further deterioration of the IOC entity. “Look, the IOC’s reputation is being damaged and we must take steps to protect the organization,” Pound said to further the need for action.
As a special member of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission that reviewed a possible Russian doping scandal, Pound discovered the suspected vote-buying for Rio De Janeiro as the 2016 games host and Tokyo for the 2020 games host. Pound was one of the initial providers of this information to the French authorities, who were able to connect Lamine Diack, former president of the International Athletics Federation, to Nuzman via a payment scheme whereby Nuzman was trading money for votes.
“Operation Unfair Play” a French investigation focusing on the connection to Russian doping scandals, uncovered payments to IOC members prior to the venue vote. In 2009, former governor of Rio de Janeiro, Sergio Cabral, received a payment. A few days later, the first $2 million payment to company owned by Diack’s son was made. In March of 2017, French newspaper Le Monde reported that IOC members Lamine Diack and Franck Fredericks were paid by Arthur Soares prior to the 2016 venue election, which was ultimately awarded to Rio de Janeiro. Fredericks has stepped down from his post as head of the IOC commission amid an investigation to alleged bribery (IOC commission head resigns).
Concern for Greater Scandal
The potential for a greater scandal, possibly to the same level of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) investigation resulting in imprisonment for several top-level members is concerning to Pound. “It could be as it did in FIFA’s investigation. It started small and was getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I hope not (be like Fifa), there is less money involved in the IOC.” The level of infrastructure created for the Rio Olympics reflects the potential monetary amounts involved. There has already been a call for additional funds from the Rio Olympics committee despite the IOC’s statement that “it has closed all obligations with the organizing committee (IOC refuses to assist).”
Pound hopes for a quick response to these concerns; however, IOC lawyers are only following the case at this time.
Dick Pound is a former Canadian swimming champion, lawyer and advocate for ethics in sports. He is currently a chancellor at McGill University and chairman of the board for the Olympic Broadcasting Services.