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IOC VP Denies Deception

IOC vice president Anita DeFrantz denied deceiving members of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations about the Salt Lake bribery scandal.

On Oct. 15 she told committee members she did not know of Olympic corruption before a bribery scandal involving Salt Lake City's 2002 bid erupted last year.

An internal U.S. Olympic Committee report recently submitted to Congress said DeFrantz, upon joining the IOC in 1986, was told by other members that she had just missed the "big birthday party," a reference to the hordes of gifts bestowed on members by Barcelona and other cities vying for the 1992 Summer Games.

She told congressional staffers that she thought the committee was asking if she had knowledge of specific gifts that exceeded the IOC's $200 limit. There was no ceiling on gifts in 1986.

DeFrantz was quoted in a copyright story in The Salt Lake Tribune Friday.

The committee intends to ask DeFrantz to submit a written correction to the record. But if no more contradictory evidence surfaces, the committee is willing to let the matter drop, the newspaper said.

"Though her testimony was clumsy, I'm not convinced enough to call Anita a liar or disingenuous," a committee staffer told the newspaper after the meeting.

DeFrantz is not the only IOC member whose congressional testimony is being scrutinized in light of the USOC's investigation.

The report contains a March 1995 letter from IOC member Jim Easton asking the USOC to train a Western Samoan boxer in order to "assure us one more vote" for Salt Lake City.

Yet Easton told the Senate Commerce Committee in April and the House oversight committee in October that he was oblivious to Salt Lake's vote-influencing schemes.

Easton refused to comment, but has said previously that the request to train athletes was legitimate and "had nothing to do with vote buying, a deplorable practice which neither myself or Ms. Anita DeFrantz knew about at the time."

The apparent contradiction disturbs Commerce chairman Sen. John McCain, but not so much that he plans to push the issue.

"At this time, we have no plans to question anyone about their testimony," committee spokeswoman Pia Pialorsi said. "The confusing and inconsistent statements further undermine the credibility of the IOC, but Sen. McCain's focus always has been institutional reform instead of the personalities involved."

Pialorsi said McCain intends to hold another hearing next year, after IOC reforms have been adopted, and that representatives of the IOC, USOC and perhaps IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch will be invited.

The House oversight committee will get the first crack at Samaranch, who has agreed to attend a Dec. 15 hearing.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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