(ATR) Created 20 years ago this month, the first IOC ethics panel was an ad hoc group that included two future presidents: Jacques Rogge and Thomas Bach. It was a strike force formed to respond to the crisis over allegations that IOC members had received cash, high-priced gifts, job offers and other favors in exchange for their votes in 1995 for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Richard Pound, now IOC doyen, was chair.
By the end of January 1999, a half dozen members were expelled at an extraordinary IOC Session, others resigned, others remained as members but sanctioned.
The IOC Ethics Commission of today is a far less nimble enforcer. While it can be quick to suspend members, the intermezzo until a judgment is rendered can last for years after the file was opened.
IOC Ethics files on Patrick Hickey, Sheikh Ahmad Al Sabah and Frank Fredericks are the most prominent open files, dating in Hickey’s case to 2016.
Ethics Commission Chair Ban Ki Moon is in the second year heading the panel. The former U.N. Secretary General heads into 2019 with an array of cases to close and the need to show more bite.
A rather direct communication from the commission to boxing federation AIBA last May was ignored. Ethics and compliance officer Paquerette Zappelli-Girard advised AIBA that Gafur Rakhimov would not be suitable to serve as president. He was elected in November by an overwhelming majority. Now a costly and cumbersome inquiry has been launched by the IOC as one of the outcomes of the defiant vote.
The Ethics Commission is required to follow the vagaries of international law as it waits for courts to adjudicate cases involving suspended IOC members. In France, the IOC is one of the interested parties in the prosecution of ex-IOC member Lamine Diack for bribery and corruption. The results could lead to the opening of new files against IOC members implicated in vote buying for the support of Rio 2016.
Members of the IOC Commission include two former athletes, IOC member Danka Bartekova and Angela Ruggiero, now an ex-IOC member. Two other IOC members include Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant of Belgium and Auvita Rapilla of Papua New Guinea. The nine-member commission includes five independent members.
Regardless of the slow pace in clearing some cases, the Ethics Commission has set standards and practices that serve as a model for behavior for the Olympic Movement worldwide.
The Around the Rings Golden 25 is the annual survey of individuals who will have the most influence for the Olympic Movement in the year ahead. First published in 1997, this is the 22nd edition.
Reported by Ed Hula.