RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Carlos Nuzman sent his resignation letter as head of the Brazilian Olympic Committee from a prison on Wednesday.
He’s been held there since last week amid an investigation into a vote-buying scheme to bring the 2016 Olympics to Rio de Janeiro.
The National Olympic Committee immediately designated vice president Paulo Wanderley to replace Nuzman, who had headed the BOC for 22 years. Wanderley will serve the three years remaining on Nuzman’s term.
Speaking after meeting with the BOC’s membership, Wanderley described Nuzman’s resignation as “a relief.”
“The resignation of the president, on a personal level, I think will speed up resolving our problems,” he said.
Nuzman, who also headed the Rio Olympics, had already been suspended as a member by the International Olympic Committee.
Nuzman’s arrest has further tarnished last year’s games, which were plagued budget cuts, spotty attendance, and reports of endemic corruption. They also left behind a half-dozen “white elephant” sports venues.
Brazil officially spent $13 billion to put on the games. A year after, the organizing committee still owes creditors between $30-40 million.
Wanderley said “all of us were taken by surprise” by Nuzman’s arrest and allegations he helped channel at least $2 million to Lamine Diack, a former IOC member from Senegal.
Brazilian and French investigators also said Nuzman had 16 kilos of gold — worth about $750,000 — stored in a depository.
Wanderley’s main job is to convince the IOC to lift Brazil’s suspension, which cuts of some its funding.
“”I will send answers to the IOC as soon as possible to all the questions they have asked us about,” Wanderley said, adding that he’d had a courtesy phone call recently with IOC President Thomas Bach.
As the Olympic body met inside its headquarters, a handful of protesters gathered outside. Many carried placards saying “Give the athletes a true vote.”
Luiz Lima, who quit several months ago as the No. 2 person in the federal sports ministry, was among those carrying a signboard.
Lima, an Olympic swimmer at the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, said Brazilian athletes had “almost no power.” He said the 30 federations that make up the Brazilian Olympic Committee each have one vote in setting policy.
He said athletes as a collective have only one.
“This is only one vote in 31, which does not seem like any fair representation,” Lima.
Lima said Brazil’s national government gives the Brazilian Olympic Committee about 200 million reals ($65 million) yearly.
He said in his tenure in the sports ministry he pushed for giving athletes and federations the money directly, bypassing the BOC.
“That got little support and was one of the reasons I left,” he said.
OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!Follow @nbcolympictalk