BBC corruption sting leads to vote

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Bulgaria's top Olympic official faces expulsion from the IOC for unethical conduct. The International Olympic Committee executive board recommended Friday that Ivan Slavkov be ousted for violating ethics rules and "seriously tarnishing" the organization's image. Slavkov has been suspended from the IOC since Aug. 7 after being implicated in a BBC television investigation into alleged corruption in the bid city process. A final decision goes to the full IOC general assembly, which meets in July in Singapore. A two-thirds vote of the 100-plus members is required for expulsion. "There is zero tolerance for unethical behavior in the IOC and today's decision reinforces this position," IOC president Jacques Rogge said at the close of a three-day board meeting. Slavkov was secretly filmed by an undercover crew discussing how votes could be bought in the race for the 2012 Summer Olympics. He contends he knew it was a setup and played along to expose what he thought was a real attempt to corrupt the process. The 64-year-old Slavkov, an IOC member since 1987, is taking legal action against the BBC for using "illegal means of surveillance." Slavkov will be allowed to defend himself at the meeting in Singapore. In August, Slavkov temporarily stepped down from his posts as head of Bulgaria's national Olympic committee and as president of Bulgaria's national soccer federation. Despite the executive board's decision, Slavkov does not intend to leave for good those two positions, said his spokesman, Atanas Karaivanov. "Slavkov will go on fighting to clear his name at the IOC session in Singapore," Karaivanov said, refusing further comment. The BBC program also featured four lobbyists claiming they could secure IOC members' votes for a price. New York, Paris, London, Madrid and Moscow are vying for the 2012 Games. The IOC will select the host city in July. The last IOC member to be expelled was Mohamad "Bob" Hasan, who was voted out in August in connection with corruption charges in Indonesia dating back 10 years. South Korea's Kim Un-yong, who is serving a 2½-year prison sentence on embezzlement and bribery charges, remains suspended from his position as an IOC vice president. The IOC is holding off any moves to expel him pending his legal appeals. Six members were expelled in 1999 and four resigned for accepting cash, gifts and other incentives in the Salt Lake City bid scandal. "As far as I speak today there is no case of corruption known by the IOC," Rogge said. The BBC program, "Buying the Games," was based on a yearlong sting operation. Reporters posed as consultants from a fictitious company acting for clients with business interests in East London who wanted the games to come to the British capital. The program showed Slavkov meeting with an undercover reporter and discussing how IOC members could be influenced. His comments were ambiguous and there was no discussion of cash payments. Slavkov's father-in-law, Todor Zhivkov, was toppled as Bulgaria's communist leader in late 1989. In 1996, Slavkov was acquitted of a charge of embezzling money from the Bulgarian Olympic Committee. In May 2000, Slavkov was cleared by the IOC ethics commission of charges he was involved in a scheme to sell votes in the campaign for the 2004 Olympics, which went to Athens. The BBC gave the IOC the names of more than 30 members allegedly open to corruption. Pressed Friday by a BBC reporter on why the IOC hadn't taken any action against those members, Rogge said the list had "no credibility, no proof, no substantiated evidence." "You can't condemn people on the basis of hearsay," he said.

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