(ATR) Frank Fredericks has resigned as head of the IOC watchdog for the 2024 Olympic bids amid an ethics probe into Rio 2016 vote bribery allegations.
"I have personally decided that it is in the best interests of a good functioning of the International Olympic Committee candidature process that I step aside as chairperson of the 2024 Evaluation Commission, because it is essential that the important work my colleagues are doing is seen as being carried out in a truthful and fair manner," he said in a statement posted on Facebook.
"Paris and Los Angeles are presenting two fantastic candidatures and I do not wish to become a distraction from this great contest."
Fredericks added: "I will not attend the IOC city meetings in July and will not participate during the vote for the 2024 city." The candidate city briefings for IOC members precede the September vote on the 2024 host at the IOC Session in Lima, Peru.
The IOC member from Namibia has also stepped down as chair of the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympics coordination commission.
His resignation from the IOC roles seemed inevitable after the allegations surfaced in French newspaper Le Monde and triggered his exit from the IAAF’s task force on Russia yesterday. The IOC had little option but to drop Fredericks, rather than hand him a provisional suspension pending the outcome of an ethics commission investigation into the Rio 2016 vote-buying allegations, which would have done nothing for the IOC's credibility.
He had been due to lead the IOC’s inspection team to Los Angeles for a three-day evaluation of the city’s 2024 Olympic bid in just over six weeks’ time. The former sprint great’s departure further wrecks the IOC’s 2024 bidding process, which was left in tatters by the Hungarian government’s decision to pull the Budapest bid last month. Rome, Hamburg and Boston abandoned their Olympic quests earlier in the bid cycle.
In his Tuesday statement, the former chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission again denied that the $299,300 he received from a business controlled by the son of disgraced ex-IAAF president Lamine Diack the day the IOC awarded the 2016 Olympics to Rio in 2009 was a bribe for his vote.
"I categorically deny any direct or indirect involvement in any untoward conduct and confirm that I have never breached any law, regulation or rule of ethics in respect of any IOC election process," he said.
"The articles do not only target me, they target the integrity of the International Olympic Committee bidding and elections process for host cities in altogether. Of course all election processes should be seen to be free and fair."
Fredericks said he had made a statement to the IOC’s ethics commission "and will continue to give my full cooperation to a proper investigation of these reports and then await the outcome of this independent process".
"It is of course in my highest interests to clear myself of the negative insinuations against me and my role within the IOC as soon as possible in order to prevent any further damage to my reputation and that of the IOC.
"I believe in the integrity of the election processes of the IOC and never noticed anything untoward to make me doubt this. I reiterate that I was never involved with any vote manipulation or for that matter any other inappropriate or illegal practice."
The IOC has yet to comment on Fredericks departure, but an announcement on his replacement as head of the 2024 evaluation commission is expected later today.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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