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(ATR) Criminal investigations involving three fallen sports leaders could ripple through the Olympic sports world in 2017.
Sepp Blatter, 80, the former president of FIFA, still faces investigation by the football federation for the handling of money during his 17 year reign. And Swiss prosecutors are pursuing the $2 million payment he authorized to Michel Platini that’s led to a six-year banishment from the sport by FIFA for both men. Blatter could also be in the target of the U.S. Justice Department which has successfully prosecuted a dozen cases against former FIFA officials from the Americas for bribery, money laundering and other financial crimes. Guilty pleas from the defendants may have come with proffers to testify about whether Blatter was involved with this influence peddling.
Lamine Diack, 83, the disgraced ex-president of the IAAF could drag some current or former IOC members into the web of intrigue he appears to have been spinning around the 2013 IOC election for the 2020 host city won by Tokyo. Diack, who was an IOC member at the time, is being investigated by French prosecutors for bribes he may have received for his vote on the 2020 Olympics. Diack faces even uglier allegations the French are investigating: that he took bribes from Russian athletes to conceal positive doping tests when he served as IAAF President.
Diack’s prosecution could shed light on a suspicious aspect of the Tokyo bid for 2020, a $2 million contract to a previously unknown bid consultant to Singapore. The deal was said to have been brokered by Diack’s son, who has escaped the French inquiry by avoiding travel outside Senegal. A Japanese investigation this year found no evidence of any wrongdoing.
Self-suspended IOC member Patrick Hickey, 71, has returned to Ireland after an extended stay in Brazil. Hickey was arrested in the final days of the Rio Olympics on charges he broke Brazilian law over the sale of Olympic tickets allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland.
Hickey says he has done nothing wrong and says he will cooperate with Brazilian authorities to clear the matter. The OCI, IOC President Thomas Bach, the European Olympic Committees and ANOC, the Association of National Olympic Committees, have all insisted on the presumption of innocence for Hickey.
His freedom to leave Brazil was made possible with a $439,000 loan from ANOC. Until he suspended his Olympic functions, Hickey was senior vice president of the group representing the world's 206 NOCs.
Hickey voluntarily suspended his various Olympic functions days after his arrest. Depending on the outcome of the trial he faces in Brazil, guilty verdicts may mean relinquishing his IOC membership of 21 years and the presidency of the European Olympic Committees he’s held since 2006. He will step down in February as president of the Olympic Council of Ireland, but Hickey had long signaled his intention to do so.
Hickey could face further scrutiny by the IOC Ethics Commission if he withdraws his suspension as an IOC member. The IOC could also review the circumstances behind the Irish ticketing controversy to make changes in the way Olympic tickets are handled by NOCs.
Written by Ed Hula.
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