"We have the power to say [the IOC is] no longer qualified and eligible to have a tax-exempt status in this country because of the conduct they have condoned," said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
The Senate investigation comes on the heels of the Mitchell commission's 70-page report on the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, which blamed the system for the worst corruption case in Olympic history.
"What the Salt Lake City people did in making improper gifts was wrong. But they did not invent this culture. The culture was in existence," said former Sen. George Mitchell.
A culture of gift-giving, said the commission, created by the International Olympic Committee, led to $1 million in gifts and direct payments to IOC delegates.
The commission also said reform was needed from the International Olympic Committee on down to avoid a repeat of the million-dollar bribery case that has tarnished Salt Lake City's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
The report traced the problems in Salt Lake City and other host cities to the fact that "ethical governance has not kept pace with the paid expansion of the Olympic movement."
"The Olympic Games have become big business for sponsors, host cities, athletes and the organizations that make up the Olympic movement," the report said.
The Salt Lake City scandal, it said, had "exposed the weaknesses in the movement's governing structure and operations controls."
Still, the report doesn't call for the IOC's embattled president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to resign.
Instead, the panel recommended an overhaul, suggesting that there be:
- No more members appointed for life to the IOC. They should be elected instead;
- No more gifts to IOC members from cities or nations bidding for the games; and
- No more secrets. IOC records must be open to public scrutiny and regular audits.
The USOC itself escaped with little more than a slap on the wrist from the commission. The report's harshest language dealt with management of USOC's training program, which in at least one case was manipulated to help Salt Lake's cause.
Mitchell said he hoped the commission's recommendations would be taken seriously by the IOC and the USOC, and that he would closely watch the international panel's special assembly March 17-18.
At that time, the IOC will vote on reforms that may answer some of the critics.
The IOC may also decide the fate of 13 more of its members connected to the scandal.
"This will be an early measure of the IOC's resolve to make changes and reforms," Mitchell said.
Mitchell and other embers of his commission also stressed they found no reason to doubt that Salt Lake won the 2002 Games on the strength of its bid, not on the size of its gifts.