IOC asks for transcripts suggesting 2020 Olympic bid bribery

Jacques Rogge Tokyo 2020
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LONDON (AP) — The IOC is ready to examine allegations of possible bribery in the bidding for the 2020 Olympics.

The Olympic body said Friday it has asked the World Anti-Doping Agency’s independent commission for transcripts from its report on doping and corruption in track and field that raises the possibility that $5 million in sponsorship money was paid to help Tokyo secure the Games.

A footnote to the WADA report indicates that former IAAF president Lamine Diack was prepared to sell his vote in the 2020 bidding contest in exchange for sponsorship of IAAF events. The report suggests that Diack — an IOC member at the time — dropped his support for Istanbul because Turkey refused to pay, and backed Tokyo after the Japanese did pay.

“We have already asked the Independent Commission for the transcript so that we can better understand the context and the claims being made,” the International Olympic Committee said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Tokyo organizers said the allegation was “beyond our understanding,” while Turkey’s Olympic committee said Diack’s reported demand was not the reason Istanbul lost.

The IOC statement noted that Dick Pound, an IOC member who chaired the WADA panel, said he was “fairly confident” the current Olympic bidding process is free of organized corruption.

“We have done an enormous amount since 1999, to make sure that that cannot happen,” Pound said, referring to the cleanup after the Salt Lake City bidding scandal. “If there is going to be individual bits of corruption you can’t stop all that. But organizationally, I don’t think that’s an issue with the Olympics.”

The WADA commission report cites transcripts of conversations between one of Diack’s sons, Khalil, and Turkish track officials in connection with the 2020 bidding process.

“Turkey lost LD’s support because they did not pay sponsorship moneys of $4 to 5 million either to the Diamond League or IAAF,” the note said, referring to Lamine Diack. “According (to) the transcript the Japanese did pay such a sum.”

“The 2020 Games were awarded to Tokyo,” the note added. “The IC did not investigate this matter further for it was not within our remit.”

Tokyo defeated Istanbul 60-36 in the final round of IOC voting in 2013 in Buenos Aires. The third candidate, Madrid, was eliminated earlier in a runoff with Istanbul.

“The note in the (WADA) report is beyond our understanding,” Hikariko Ono, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, said in a statement. “The games were awarded to Tokyo because the city presented the best bid. Tokyo’s bid was about Japan’s commitment to address issues around the integrity of sport.”

Ugur Erdener, head of the Turkish Olympic Committee, issued a statement Friday saying Istanbul did not lose because of Diack’s reported demand for sponsorship money.

“Lamine Diack was the head of the IAAF at the time and may have been expecting sponsorship for his federation,” said Erdener, who also serves on the IOC executive board. “He may have used his individual vote in favor of another city that met his expectations.”

“Lamine Diack does not have the authority to grant the Olympic Games to any city, and in the end, he only used his vote,” Erdener said. “Therefore, it would not be a correct approach to explain the fact that Istanbul did not win the right to organize the 2020 Olympic Games through Lamine Diack’s vote alone.”

Diack, of Senegal, served as an IOC member from 1999 to 2013. As a senior figure in the Olympic world, he could have held sway in influencing a bloc of IOC votes.

Diack resigned as an honorary IOC member in November, a day after he was provisionally suspended by the executive board. The move came after he was placed under criminal investigation in France on corruption and money-laundering charges in connection with cover-ups of Russian doping cases.

Pound on Thursday recommended the IAAF “take a vigorous, forensic look” at the 2020 Olympic vote-buying allegation and the awarding of world championships to certain cities and countries.

“We have had reports from people who seem to know what they are talking about,” Pound said at a news conference. “We have brought that to the attention of the IAAF and recommended they take a vigorous forensic look at it, to see whether there is anything to the allegations.”

It’s not the first time Diack has been linked to possible Olympic bribery.

The Guardian newspaper reported Tuesday that it had seen emails from one of Diack’s sons, Papa Masata Diack, regarding alleged “parcels” to be delivered to six IOC members in connection with the bid from Doha, Qatar, for the 2016 Games.

The Guardian said the parcels were to have been delivered through a man believed to be Lamine Diack.

It wasn’t known whether any packages were sent. In any case, a month after the email was sent in May 2008, Doha failed to make the list of finalists in the 2016 bidding.

Last week, Papa Masata Diack was banned for life by the IAAF ethics commission for corruption and cover-up allegations linked to Russian doping.

The IOC said it asked the Guardian for copies of the emails so the material could be sent to its ethics commission, but that the Guardian had refused.

MORE: Vladimir Putin named in WADA report on Russia track and field

World champion skier Kyle Smaine dies in avalanche at age 31

Kyle Smaine
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Kyle Smaine, a retired world champion halfpipe skier, died in an avalanche in Japan on Sunday, according to NBC News, citing Smaine’s father. He was 31.

Smaine, a 2015 World champion in ski halfpipe, had been doing ski filming in Japan, sharing videos on his Instagram account over the past week.

The native of South Lake Tahoe, California, finished ninth in ski halfpipe at the 2016 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado.

In 2018, Smaine won the fifth and final U.S. Olympic qualifying series event in ski halfpipe but did not make the four-man team for PyeongChang. His last sanctioned international competition was in February 2018.

Late Sunday, two-time Olympic champion David Wise won the X Games men’s ski halfpipe and dedicated it to Smaine.

“We all did this for Kyle tonight,” Wise said on the broadcast. “It’s a little bit of an emotional day for us. We lost a friend.”

Ilia Malinin wins U.S. Figure Skating Championships despite quadruple Axel miss

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One year ago, Ilia Malinin came to the U.S. Championships as, largely, a 17-year-old unknown. He finished second to Nathan Chen in 2022 and was left off the three-man Olympic team due to his inexperience, a committee decision that lit a fire in him.

After the biggest year of change in U.S. figure skating in three decades, Malinin came to this week’s nationals in San Jose, California, as the headliner across all disciplines.

Though he fell on his quadruple Axel and doubled two other planned quads in Sunday’s free skate (the most ambitious program in history), he succeeded the absent Chen as national champion.

Malinin, the world’s second-ranked male singles skater, still landed two clean quads in Friday’s short program and three more Sunday. He totaled 287.74 points and prevailed by 10.43 over two-time Olympian Jason Brown, a bridge between the Chen and Malinin eras.

“This wasn’t the skate that I wanted,” said Malinin, who was bidding to become the second man to land six quads in one program after Chen. The Virginia chalked up the flaws at least partially to putting more recent practice time into his short program, which he skated clean on Friday after errors in previous competitions.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Results

Brown, a 28-year-old competing for the first time since placing sixth at the Olympics, became the oldest male singles skater to finish in the top three at nationals since Jeremy Abbott won the last of his four titles in 2014. As usual, he didn’t attempt a quad but had the highest artistic score by 9.41 points.

Brown’s seven total top-three finishes at nationals tie him with Chen, Michael WeissBrian Boitano, David Jenkins and Dick Button for the second-most in men’s singles since World War II, trailing only Todd Eldredge‘s and Hayes Jenkins‘ eight.

“I’m not saying it’s super old, but I can’t train the way I used to,” Brown said after Friday’s short program. “What Ilia is doing and the way he is pushing the sport is outstanding and incredible to watch. I cannot keep up.”

Andrew Torgashev took bronze, winning the free skate with one quad and all clean jumps. Torgashev, who competed at nationals for the first time since placing fifth in 2020 at age 18, will likely round out the three-man world team.

Japan’s Shoma Uno will likely be the favorite at worlds. He won last year’s world title, when Malinin admittedly cracked under pressure in the free skate after a fourth-place short program and ended up ninth.

That was before Malinin became the first person to land a quad Axel in competition. That was before Malinin became the story of the figure skating world this fall. That was before Malinin took over the American throne from Chen, who is studying at Yale and not expected to return to competition.

Malinin’s next step is to grab another label that Chen long held: best in the world. To do that, he must be better than he was on Sunday.

“You always learn from your experiences, and there’s always still the rest of the season to come,” he said. “I just have to be prepared and prepare a little bit extra so that doesn’t happen again.”

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