Andrew Jennings Award winning journalist Andrew Jennings contributes to publications worldwide on may topics including sports politics and international organized crime. He worked for many years as an investigative reporter for the BBC and then Granada Television’s World in Action program and is a Faculty Fellow at the University of Brighton. His recent book, The New Lords of the Rings – Olympic Corruption and How to Buy Gold Medals is an astonishing documentation of inner workings of the IOC.
Mr. Larfoui joined the IOC in 1994. IOC president Samaranch claims that it’s good for the Olympics to have International Federation presidents “in-house,” members at his private club.
I want to suggest today the very opposite is true — that it is fatal for a sports federation to permit its leadership to take such a step. I also want to look at the endemic corruption in Mr. Larfoui’s new club and the way the IOC are currently covering up one of the biggest scandals in the history of the games. It has lessons for anybody concerned about the IOC and doping.
So How did Mr. Larfoui become FINA president?
He was selected sometime in the 1980’s by the Adidas company as a man who would be useful to them and increase their business. Adidas, between around 1970 and 1990 exercised great power in sport, putting in place IOC President Samaranch, IAAF president Primo Nebiolo, many IOC members and other senior officials — and Mr. Larfoui. Adidas had a group of fixers known as the Adidas Sports Politics team. One of the most highly rewarded and important members of that team was Anwar Chowdhry; then and now, president of international amateur boxing. Chowdhry solicits bribes from Olympic bidding cities and carries out dirty tricks for Samaranch.
I can say this with authority because I have unearthed some astonishing files in the archives of the former East German secret police — the Stasi. They are the reports written by Mr. Karl-Heinz Wehr: He’s the General Secretary of international amateur boxing. Wehr was also a Stasi agent and he made secret reports about international sports politics.
I’d like to quote to you two small segments I found in the archives of the Stasi. This is a report from Mr. Wehr who was required to report to the Stasi after a trip to another country. He said, “During the meeting in Paris the most important topic was the preparation of congresses of the international federations during the games in Seoul. Chowdhry wanted to know what the opinion of the GDR Swimming Federation was in regards to FINA because the Adidas sports political group decided for an Algerian, who should also be supported by the GDR.”
After the Olympic Games in Seoul and after the congress where Algerian Mr. Larfoui emerged as your swimming president and world leader, here in this second document Wehr reported, “As far as Chowdhry and his role as member of the Adidas commission is concerned I must add here that in the first weeks at the Olympics during many international congresses he tried to force through Adidas interests. For example during the swimming congress when their candidate was elected president…”
I am still waiting for more documents to be released to tell us a little bit more about why Mr. Larfoui was chosen by the Olympic power brokers to be the suitable person to lead world swimming. You all realize of course that you were not consulted.
What has joining the IOC done to Mr. Larfoui’s loyalties?
All new IOC members take this oath: They swear, “I undertake …. to respect…. the decisions of the IOC, which I consider as not subject to appeal on my part.”
So what happens when the IOC decides on a policy that is not acceptable to FINA? Mr. Larfoui cannot oppose it. So how can he carry out a FINA mandate? He has sworn to put the interests of the IOC above those of FINA. I my opinion, no Federation president or official should be permitted to join the IOC.
To understand what is going on here you have to know Samaranch’s political history. He was a loyal fascist under General Franco’s 40-year dictatorship in Spain, became sports minister and signed his letters with the fascist slogan: “I salute you with my arm raised” — the Fascist salute. Up until the dictator’s death in 1975 Samaranch was still proclaiming himself “one hundred per cent Francoist” – and was still giving that salute. The essence of that type of fascism was the corporate state. There was no democracy, all power trickled down from the top. In the corporate state all opposition was outlawed and all institutions were absorbed into one movement – the fascist Movimiento.
This is what Samaranch seeks to do. When he talks of the “sacred unity” of sport – what he really means is drawing all the institutions of sport under the control of the IOC. For the dictator Franco — now read the dictator Samaranch.
You might occasionally ask yourselves why your sport allows itself to perform in the Olympics and be controlled by the IOC.
I’d like to take a brief look at the IOC — not what they claim to be in their press releases — but what historical research reveals. This is the organization that Mr. Larfoui has sworn loyalty to.
Democracy – There isn’t any. Samaranch selects members acceptable to him — his members rubber-stamp them. New members are not proposed by the countries they come from. American sport didn’t nominate Robert Helmick, Anita DeFrantz — she’s paid $150,000 a year to oversee the distribution of profits from the 1984 games — or James Easton. Samaranch chose them for his own very good reasons. The only voting is when the IOC chooses its president and executive board.
Accountability – There isn’t any. The IOC is not responsive to sport. But they don’t have to be. They don’t need to be. Just read the Olympic Charter. Take Rule Eleven: “The Olympic Games are the exclusive property of the IOC which owns all rights relating thereto, in particular, and without limitation, the rights relating to their Organization, exploitation, broadcasting and reproduction by any means whatsoever.”
With the huge financial support of the world’s TV networks and the multi-national sponsors, the IOC can afford to ignore sport. Samaranch and his self-selecting mafia are confident that the world’s athletes will turn up every four years — and make them even richer.
Openness – There isn’t any. What do they discuss at their annual convention? We’re not allowed to know. Most of the world’s parliaments are televised but all IOC meetings are held in private, followed by a stone-walling press conference. We can’t join the debate about the future of our games. They decide and the athletes and the fans learn from the press. When the press reports, as it did in Atlanta, the results of the elections to the IOC Executive Board, it didn’t tell you that it had been excluded from the discussion and the vote. The press reported only what it was told.
Money – I estimate that the IOC controls around $150 million in assets and bank accounts in Switzerland. The IOC takes hefty chunks of the TV and sponsor money. With it, they give themselves a 5 star lifestyle.
What really happens to these profits? They won’t tell us. If they had nothing to hide they’d be happy to open the books and disclose their bank accounts, payments slips and hospitality bills. Under the current regime, that’s unthinkable.
Members – There are about 115 members. How many can you name? It’s not easy because most don’t court publicity — they just get on with enjoying the perks. Most of them are unknowns in their own countries. How many of you have ever heard of James Easton, one of the United States’ own IOC members? He never says anything. Why should he? He just gets on with enjoying the good life. The former chairman of the English Sports Council summed them up this way: “They share the traditional prerogative of the prostitute, the exercise of power without responsibility.”
As we’ve seen they are not accountable to the athletes, the sports federations, the fans or the national Olympic committees world-wide. They are not elected by their own countries so they can’t be held responsible, anywhere, for their arbitrary decisions. They take the most from the Olympics and contribute least. They fly first class from one obsequious bidding city to another. These cities lay on gargantuan free lunches, dinners, trips and presents and some members take advantage to seek business deals, solicit bribes or trade votes for sex. Many of them are elderly men. Only ten per cent of them are women.
I’d like to introduce to you to just a few current members of this august and great moral body:
Russia’s Vitaly Smirnoff — associated with Moscow organized crime; Senegal’s ace cover up man who is called in whenever there is a problem, Judge Keba MBaye; from Peru, Ivan Dibos — he spends his time trying to extort business deals in bid cities; the mouthpiece for the Beijing regime — Zhenliang He; the well known sports leader Princess Nora of Liechtenstein; Great Britain’s Princess Ann; Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia — no idea of democracy; Sheikh Fahd Al-Sabah of the Kuwaiti ruling family was on the IOC — all great sports people as you know; his very stupid son Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah succeeded his father when his father died in 1990; David Sibandze of Swaziland seeks business and scholarships for his children; General Henry Adfope of Nigeria also known and “Mr. Wandering Hands” who survived a scandal involving sexual harassment and how did Samaranch reward him? By putting him on a small group evaluating bid cities for 2004 — I hope the bidding cities hide away their women and children; Carlos Ferrer — fixes business deals for IOC members; Ivan Slavkov of Bulgaria who is son in law of the old dictator Tudor Zhikov; Major General Francis Nyangweso of Uganda who was Idi Amin’s chief of staff at a time when 300,000 people were massacred; Mario Vazquez Rana from Mexico, a billionaire media baron and one of the most loathsome people you can ever encounter; and there is also his brother Olegario Vazquez Rana; Charles Mukora from Kenya whose expense claims make interesting reading; Sergio Santander Fantini of Chili who was a great supporter of the Pinochet dictatorship; Dick Pound, a Canadian and lawyer for Adidas; Kevan Gosper, Mr. Clean from Australia who helped bury the sex scandal involving General Henry Adfope mentioned earlier; Primo Nebiolo, the boss of Track and Field and a loathsome person; Alex Gilady who we are told is the IOC representative from Israel but I understand that his official position is vice president for Olympic sport at NBC — apparently there is no conflict of business; Mohamad Bob Hasan from Indonesia — a rain forest logger.
Before the Atlanta Games there were only 7 women on the IOC. There are now 10. Two of those 7 women were European princesses. And of course we are all entirely convinced that those rich and selfish women absolutely represent 50% of the world’s population — or are we?
That’s the new world of FINA President Mustapha Larfoui.
You can tell who the IOC think important. Look who they give the Olympic Order to. These are the people they honor:
Former East German despot Erich Honeeker; Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceaucescu.; Bulgarian dictator Tudor Zhikov; Japanese property billionaire Tsutsumi who owns the Nagano winter games in 1998; Former Italian premier Giulio Andreotti (He is awaiting trial for Mafia membership and conspiracy to murder. Samaranch gave him a Gold Olympic order. If he’s convicted, will they ask him to return it?); Former Korean president Roh Tae Woo also got a Gold Order after the Seoul games. He’s just been jailed for 22 years for involvement in an army massacre and spectacular corruption; Boxing President Anwar Chowdhry who Samaranch well knows has presided over some of the most spectacular corruption in the Olympics; A silver Olympic Order went to Manfred Ewald, who oversaw East Germany’s state doping system.
That’s the same award they gave Jesse Owens. Discus thrower Al Oerter, who between 1956 and 1968 won four consecutive Olympic golds, was dismissed with a bronze Olympic Order. At the IOC athletes don’t matter.
How did it all start?
Back in 1894 a French aristocrat, the Baron Pierre de Coubertin, summoned a meeting of European aristocrats and a few Blue Blood Americans and set up what they claimed was a universal movement, yet the only common people in sight that day were the waiters, the doormen and servant looking after the horses and carriages. Coubertin selected a string of Generals and aristocrats to run the people’s games. Even today – you won’t find any blue collar workers on the IOC. Nobody who’s hard up or on the average wage gets on the IOC.
Coubertin chose members from a rich elite who were about to lose power as democracy spread through Europe. Their descendants have remained on the IOC, increasingly isolated from the real world but growing more powerful as sport became sought after by TV and the sponsors.
We’ve all heard about the 1936 Nazi Olympics and they are passed off as some kind of unfortunate aberration. What we are never told by the IOC is that Coubertin applauded the Berlin Games and that a raft of German Nazis and Italian and Spanish fascists were appointed to the IOC and many remained there until the 1960s. The youngest of them all is now the 76-year old IOC president!
Hitler’s last sports minister, the Nazi party member and storm trooper Karl Ritter von Halt stayed on the IOC until 1964 and they even made him a member of their executive board from 1957 until 1963. Another German member, General Walther von Reichenau sanctioned what one historian has called, “a stupendous massacre of Jews” in Kiev, in 1941. If von Reichenau had not died during the war he would have been the first IOC member to stand trial at a war crimes tribunal and would have been executed.
I should add that the anti-Jewish policies of the Berlin Games and these vile Nazis were robustly defended by British aristocratic IOC members like Lord Aberdare and American member Avery Brundage.
The worst ever Olympic scandal:
I’d like to start by looking at one particular IOC tradition. Ever since World War Two the IOC has gone out of its way to select the most corrupt people it could from South Korea. Their first IOC member, Lee M Poong had to commit suicide in April 1960 because he rigged the elections so clumsily that the ruling junta collapsed. The next three members were all stooges of successive military dictatorships. One of them tried to pay bribes to IOC president Killanin — who succeeded Brundage and was followed by Samaranch.
Then in 1984 Samaranch appointed Park Chong Kyu. You can find Park’s name in the Congressional archives of the KoreaGate scandel from the 1970s. He tried to bribe one of Nixon’s aides with $10,000 in cash. Park was described to me by a former CIA analyst in Seoul as “a deadly and very dangerous man, Korea’s Number One Thug.” When Park died Samaranch gave him a posthumous Olympic Order. The choice to replace him in 1986 was Dr. Kim Un Yong.
Who is Dr. Kim? He was the IOC’s first VP up until July and is very close to Samaranch. Look again in the KoreaGate reports in Washington and you’ll find that Kim was an Assistant Director of the Korean CIA — a bloodthirsty bunch of torturers who repressed democracy in Korea for more than 30 years. In the 1960’s and 70’s Kim was a spy based in the Korean embassy in Washington. America’s intelligence agencies knew him as “Mickey” Kim. It was alleged he illegally solicited funds from an American arms manufacturer. On orders from the Korean military junta, Kim created and has led the world’s most corrupt international sports federation the WTF since 1973. Kim’s crooked version of taekwondo will debut in Sydney 2000.
This is what one member of the IOC executive board told me: “I think he is a combination of thug and spook. There’s great speculation that he runs the Korean ClA. He certainly trained with them. He’s pretty opaque. He’s very ambitious. He’s got this network of taekwondo which is totally supported by the Korean Government and that’s his job. He’s a braggart and a bully. He’s everything you would think about somebody from that part of the world, in a position of power.”
Did you notice that South Korea got a second IOC member in Atlanta? A man named Kun Hee Lee? And did you notice that 10 days ago in Seoul Mr. Lee was given a two year jail sentence for massive bribery of government officials. He is the boss of the Samsung electronics empire. Fortunately it’s a suspended sentence so he will be able to go on attending IOC meetings.
With that background, it’s not surprising that the Seoul Games were corrupt Games.
Bribes were paid by a Korean millionaire to win gold medals for Koreans. I know the name of the bribe payer, the names of the middlemen who stole most of the money, and the names of the sports officials who pocketed what was left. Did you ever watch any of the Olympic boxing from Seoul? Do you remember American middleweight Roy Jones being robbed of his gold? And the riot in the ring over a referee’s decision? He had not been paid off and gave a fair verdict.
Digging in the East German Stasi archives I discovered reports by Boxing’s general secretary Karl-Heinz Wehr which reveal not only the corruption but how they covered it up and with at least one and, probably several, IOC members knowing the truth. I disclosed this scandal in my new book this year. Samaranch refuses to discuss it but, under pressure from one courageous sports official — Jerry Dusenberry, president of USA Boxing — and with no support from the USOC, the IOC has set up a three-man panel to report next month on the scandal. They have not announced this to the media. Dusenberry reckons that up to 30 fights may have been fixed in Seoul.
But don’t for one minute expect fairness and justice from the IOC. Samaranch has, several problems. They go deeper than the embarrassing admission that the Games can be corrupt. An admission that would damage popular perceptions and thus his income from TV and sponsors. Right in the middle of the scandal is Anwar Chowdhry, holder of the Olympic Order, president of world amateur boxing and a deeply corrupt man who, as revealed in the Stasi archives, is a man Samaranch has relied on for years to carry out dirty tricks in Olympic politics on his behalf. Samaranch dare not expose Chowdhry because Chowdhry knows too much. Chowdhry is fire proof.
Another embarrassment is German IOC member Dr. Thomas Bach. He was groomed by Adidas and worked for their team of fixers in the 1980s. New Stasi documents that surfaced just before Atlanta disclosed that Bach was involved in the corrupt manipulations that made Chowdhry and Wehr the leaders of amateur boxing in 1986 — and led to the Seoul scandals two years later. Thomas Bach helped arrange bribes for delegates to the boxing congress that elected the new leadership. Free air tickets were also provided and where there was doubt, the services of prostitutes were provided. These disclosures were published in the German news magazine Der Spiegel on Monday July 15 two days before Bach was to be a shoo-in to the IOC executive Board. Fortunately for him and Samaranch, the story never made it into the English language media and so Bach, with public support from NBC sports VP Alex Gilady (also an IOC member) is now on the executive board.
I believe firmly that Samaranch has chosen Bach to be his successor. So Bach is fire proof And who cares about the athletes that were robbed? Nobody in Olympic authority.
That’s the club that FINA president Larfoui has sworn allegiance to. He speaks in your name at the IOC. What would you wish him to say? Does he ever ask you?