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IOC advised to empower ethics panel, control $500M commission

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The International Olympic Committee was advised Monday to give its ethics panel more power to investigate suspected wrongdoing by sports officials.

Financial risks linked to the Olympic Solidarity Commission, which has $500 million to give Olympic bodies ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games, were also identified by Lausanne-based management consultants hired by the IOC.

The Solidarity panel chairman, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait, is currently implicated in an FIFA bribery case in the United States. He resigned from FIFA in April.

Seven "dilemmas" in the coming years and 33 recommendations to improve how the IOC is run were suggested by the International Institute for Management Development.

"We view the IOC as the leaders of the sports world in governance," report author Didier Cossin told a news conference. "At the same time, this is always challenged."

Cossin said his organization had called on the IOC to take action in specific areas.

"We are still pushing for some elements, notably around Olympic Solidarity," added Cossin, who wrote that more information should be published about its "financial flows."

The panel distributes tens of millions of dollars each year to national Olympic committees and helps athletes from poorer countries prepare for the Games.

Sheikh Ahmad, president of the global group of Olympic bodies known as ANOC, has stayed in charge of the Solidarity work three months after being identified in a U.S. federal court as being the source of bribes paid to FIFA voters in Asia. He has denied wrongdoing, though he resigned his FIFA position days before he was due for re-election.

The IOC has said its ethics commission has sought information about the case but has not confirmed a formal investigation against him.

Asked if a possible case prevented the Kuwaiti sheikh from attending key Olympic meetings in Lausanne this week, IOC executive director Christophe De Kepper said no decision to prevent him attending had been taken.

The management consultants suggest giving the IOC ethics panel freedom to launch its own investigations, instead of awaiting a referral from the IOC administration.

Sanctioning power could also be given to "an independent third party," the report suggests, rather than being retained within the executive board chaired by IOC president Thomas Bach.

De Kepper said around half the report's recommendations had already begun to be acted upon.