Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, January 25, 1999

IOC scandal
should oust

ANYONE else out there who thinks Juan Samaranch should resign as president of the International Olympic Committee? All in favor, pull out your Visa card ... I'm sure with Visa as an official Olympic sponsor, the IOC won't take American Express.

They've apparently taken everything else, however, from jewelry to medical services to graduate school scholarships. But with some $10,000 in hunting rifles donated by the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee still unaccounted for, one can't blame the powers-that-be for being -- how should we say -- a little gun-shy about pushing Samaranch out.

Yesterday, Olympic leaders met in Switzerland and recommended that six IOC members be purged from its board. A special inquiry found eight IOC members had pocketed more than $440,000 in cash and excessive gifts.

Samaranch said the action was taken to end "the ugliest chapter" ever for the world's biggest sports event. It doesn't go far enough.

Samaranch should be gone as well. He doesn't have a vote on the committee that chooses the Olympic sites, but his uninvolvement was pretty loud when his hometown, Barcelona, was selected in 1992. (And we used to think the East German judges were biased).

The guy doesn't receive a salary, yet he lives in a palace used as IOC Headquarters, travels by private jet, rides in nothing but limos and will stay only in five-star hotel suites when visiting on official and unofficial business.

IF the NCAA were doing the investigating, the Olympics would receive the "death penalty" ... unless the IOC managed to donate enough money to build the NCAA's new headquarters in Indianapolis as well as help every school meet Title IX compliance with total funding of non-revenue sports.

The NCAA would consider it incentives, not bribery. Just as the IOC considers Japan's $20 million a donation and not the price to bring the Games to Nagano in '98.

This week's issue of Time magazine details a $20-million deposit into the IOC account by Japanese businessmen. The money was earmarked for the Olympic Museum, the pet project of Samaranch.

The greatest athletic competition in the history of the world has been tarnished before: the massacre of Israeli athletes in 1972, the boycotts of 1980 and '84, the continual biased judging in boxing, gymnastics and ice skating, the omnipresent charges of illegal drug use.

The worst thing that happened to the Olympics was when the Los Angeles Games turned a huge profit. Commercialism goes against the very core of the Olympic ideal.

The best thing that could happen to the Olympics would be for Samaranch to resign.



WITH so much wrong in the world of sport, it's refreshing to be able to pass along this item received over the weekend:

"The guys and I love competing here (in Hawaii). The fans are maybe the best in the country. They appreciate effort and good volleyball and they let you know it.

"Everyone here makes the 'Aloha Spirit' a reality."

This e-mail was received late Friday night, written by Penn State men's volleyball coach Mark Pavlik. His Nittany Lions had finished the Outrigger Hotels Invitational 0-3, completing a 10-day cross-country road trip on which they had gone 0-7.

The amazing part is Pavlik sent this to his "Friends of Penn State Volleyball" message group before he went to bed Friday. He couldn't wait to share the news about what a great time his team had out here again.

Penn State may be winless but they certainly left as winners.

Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.

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