Human Rights Campaigners
Get Olympic Beating
The Olympic Movement’s latest poster boy, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, had his riot police administer a traditional Minsk-style kicking last Wednesday to citizens on the streets attempting to celebrate World Human Rights Day.
Charter 97 reported on its website that dozens of demonstrators, arrested in cities across Belarus, were physically abused in custody.
In Belarus human rights are as important as in China – perhaps explaining why Europe’s Olympic Committees recently honoured Lukashenko – as revealed here last week - for ‘his outstanding contribution to the Olympic movement.’
Thursday wasn’t a much better day for Lukashenko’s sporting image. Two Belarus hammer-throwers were stripped of their Beijing silver and bronze medals after testing positive for more testosterone than a billy goat on Viagra. We won’t be seeing one of them ever again – it was his second offence. He rooms in the Belarus gulag from Monday.
The banning of these dopers was spread across the Internet – except on the site of the Belarus Olympic Committee. Their top story was the tasteful blue and white Olympic diploma awarded to their Maximum Leader.
I’ve failed for a second week to prise any comment from Dublin’s Pat Hickey, the IOC member who appears to have dreamed up this astonishing award to the thuggish Lukashenko. I’ve tried to reach him through his Rome office, his Dublin office and the IOC office in Lausanne. It seems that at crisis time, Pat doesn’t have access to email or a cellphone.
The British Olympic Association has pulled up the drawbridge at their Wandsworth HQ for a second week and, like Hickey, are practising omertà. If they can’t explain their role in this affair, what hope they could pick a football team for the London Olympics?
I asked a few more national Olympic committees and only one responded. Marc-André Giger of the Swiss franchise wished me ‘a Wonderful Christmas and a prosperous and successful New Year’ but said they ‘prefer to discuss this topic first within the circle of the Olympic family, before we submit a statement to the press.’
Fair enough, Olympic transparency was never a high-rated stock. Let’s hope they’ll also discuss the similar honour presented by Pat Hickey to the French Olympic official who resigned from the IOC last year after a Paris court gave him a suspended jail sentence and €20,000 fine - and just before the IOC’s Ethics Commission ruled ‘his conduct tarnished the reputation of the Olympic Movement.’
The day the IOC Executive Board took away those druggy Belarus medals was the 10th anniversary of Swiss IOC member Marc Hodler reacting to the tidal wave of corruption allegations involving his fellow IOC members in Salt Lake City. Once Marc had confirmed to stunned reporters in Lausanne that too many of his esteemed colleagues were a bunch of greedy rip-off artists, the IOC would never be the same again.
Although I was banned for years by the IOC because I wouldn’t stop alleging corruption, Marc always talked to me and although disgusted by the rackets his fellow-members pulled in Utah, he was amused by the saga of the 3-Vs.
Buried in the archives of the Salt Lake bidding team was a memo recounting a shopping list handed to an office junior by a visiting IOC deputation. Their demands? $1,000 worth of Viagra, a violin that cost $524 and . . . a $74.27 vibrator. What kind of party was it? And was it drug-tested?
I HAD HOPED that the imminence of Christmas and their executive committee meeting might tempt FIFA and Jack Warner to answer a question that’s been troubling me for a couple of years. Back in 2006 I obtained and published secret reports prepared for FIFA by auditors Ernst & Young revealing that vice-president Warner and his son Daryan had illicitly acquired 5,400 tickets for the 2006 Germany World Cup and then sold them at stupendous profits to package tour operators.
There’s no way Sepp Blatter would allow touting Jack to be tossed out of FIFA. But I got hold of some confidential documents revealing that FIFA’s executive committee had fined Daryan around $1 million dollars ‘to compensate for the profits made through the resale of 2006 FIFA World Cup tickets.’ The money was to go to charity.
But neither FIFA’s latest communications director Hans Klaus, nor the Warners, will reveal if the money has been paid. Apparently I’m an ‘off-message’ reporter so Hans doesn’t feel the need to confide in me.
I’ll try again in the New Year.
Read the daily horror stories from Belarus at Charter 97 website
Questions to Pat Hickey (He didn’t reply)
Questions to the British Olympic Association (They didn’t reply)
Questions to President Jacques Rogge (He didn’t reply)
Sunday Herald - 14th December 2008