After weeks of checking out records and witnesses, federal investigators in Salt Lake City reportedly are zeroing in one critical aspect of the Olympic scandal, first-class airline tickets.
Investigators are probing whether Salt Lake officials had a scheme to give premium tickets to members of the International Olympic Committee and let them convert the tickets into cash, in an elaborate form of bribery.
The Salt Lake committee's tax records show travel expenses over seven years of almost $5 million.
Cities competing for the Olympics have complained for years about IOC members squeezing them for pricey tickets. Back in 1991 Toronto organizers wrote to IOC headquarters enumerating its members abuses.
The most blatant abuse, Toronto organizers wrote, was the misappropriation of travel expenses and airline tickets, demanding and receiving full fare tickets, and cashing in those tickets.
"We were constantly harassed by many IOC members looking for favors," said former Toronto Organizing Committee member Norman Seagram. "We saw improper practices and we were subjected to many abuses of our hospitality."
Utah's governor, trying to keep ahead of the snowballing scandal, said he knew nothing of any scams and bribes, even though he has a seat on Salt Lake's Olympic board.
"Did I know anything about direct gifts of cash or other transfers? Absolutely not!" said Utah Governor Mike Leavitt.
The attorney for Tom Welch, the former Salt Lake Olympic chief now at the center of the scandal, insists Welch didn't know of any ticket scam either.
"How could we control that? How could we be blamed for that? I don't understand!" said attorney Tom Schaeffer.
Next stop on the scandal express? Salt Lake's own ethics probe, due out next week.
Reported By Bill Whitaker