FBI Moves Fast In Olympic Probe

The International Olympics Committee has ruled out further punishment of the battered Salt Lake Olympics effort, but federal investigators probing bribery allegations surrounding the city's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games might not be so charitable.

A federal grand jury in Salt Lake City will begin hearing evidence of tax fraud and bribery as early as next week, The Salt Lake Tribune said Thursday.

Meanwhile, officials in Quebec City, Canada, have demanded that the IOC fork over $12 million. They say the money will compensate Quebec and two other cities that lost the right to host the 2002 winter games.

Cities have complained about IOC bribe-taking for years. Australian officials reported an IOC member who asked for bribes during Sydney's successful bid for the 2000 games.

Prosecutors will deliver subpoenas to key players in the Olympic scandal. Many of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee records already reviewed by the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and SLOC's own ethics panel have made their way to the FBI's Salt Lake City headquarters, where Department of Justice attorney Richard Wiedis is heading the government's bribery probe.

The speed of the subpoenas might suggest the scandal presents federal investigators with a troublesome time limit. Much of federal law is ruled by a five-year statute of limitation. Any violation of the fraud and bribery laws prior to 1993 could fall outside the Justice probe unless it was shown to be part of an ongoing conspiracy to defraud.

CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that authorities want to know who offered the alleged bribes and who took them. But other are poining to IOC members who may have solicited bribes.

Past Olympians have heard about it for years. "I don't think it has anything to do at all with Salt Lake City and perhaps not even the U.S. Olympic Committee," said nine-time gold medal swimmer Mark Spitz.

"It has to do with the sponsors of the event, which happens to be the International Olympic body in Lausanne, Switzerland."

Salt Lake Olympic chief Robert Graff claims the IOC has fostered an atmosphere im which such things happen and are expected to happen. "They wanted lavish treatment," he said.

The IOC insists it's taking action and sending suspect members letters, saying 'resign or be expelled.' There is no list yet, but several names are in the air, including those of Sergio Santander Fantini of Chile, who denied receiving $10,000 from Salt Lake organizers and Jean Claude Ganga of the Congo, who is accused of receiving cash, medical treatment and real estate windfalls.

Jacques Rogge, a member of the IOC panel looking into allegations, announced Wednesday, "The commission will not recommend any action against Salt Lake City. There is no action to be taken."

Rogge said he understood that "around a dozen" IOC members had been implicated in th investigation of Salt Lake, but rejected calls for IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch's resignation as "ridiculous."

USA Today, citing unidentified sources with knowledge of the inquiry, reported today that the IOC sent letters to 13 of its members demanding explanations of activities in the Salt Lake City bid.

Rogge also said the IOC was prepared to investigate charges of corruption in other campaigns, including claims that Sydney officials were approached for bribes during their successful bid for the 2000 Summer Games.

Rogge, a Belgian member of the IOC's executive board, said the six-man investigative panel had considered sanctions against Salt Lake officials connected with the 2002 bid.

But he said such action was ruled out when the organizing committee's two top officials, president Frank Joklik and vice president Dave Johnson, resigned last week amid four investigations of cash payments, lavish gifts and scholarships from Salt Lake bidders to IOC members.

"The people who were in the bid are no more," Rogge said in a telephone interview. "They took the actions they thought were needed."

There's a ripple affect to the allegations, Whitaker reports. The stench of scandal now has sponsors demanding that Olympic broadcasters cut the cost of advertising for the troubled games.
  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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