IOC has busy agenda for executive board meetings

The IOC will have plenty to discuss this week, including an ethics investigation that forced out its longest-serving member, stalled revenue-sharing talks with the U.S. Olympic Committee and a museum embezzlement scandal that led to the firing of three employees.

The International Olympic Committee opens a two-day executive board meeting Wednesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, amid several delicate issues that have boiled up in recent days.

The gathering comes just days after 95-year-old Joao Havelange resigned from the IOC to avoid suspension in a decade-old kickbacks scandal dating to his days as FIFA president.

The Brazilian, an IOC member for 48 years, faced a possible two-year suspension for allegedly taking $1 million from FIFA's former marketing agency ISL in return for World Cup television contracts.

Havelange's resignation, first reported Sunday by The Associated Press, was confirmed Monday by the IOC and FIFA. Sanctions against Havelange had been scheduled to be announced by the IOC board Thursday, but his departure closes the case.

The IOC's ethics commission will make recommendations on two other members. IAAF President Lamine Diack and African soccer official Issa Hayatou face much lighter penalties, short of full suspensions, for alleged conflict of interest. Neither was an IOC member at the time.

The IOC ethics probe stems from a BBC documentary last year into kickbacks allegedly paid by ISL, which owned World Cup television rights and collapsed with debts of $300 million in 2001.

Hayatou, an IOC member for Cameroon since 2001, reportedly received about $20,000 from ISL in 1995. He has denied any corruption and said the money was a gift for his confederation's anniversary celebrations.

Diack said he received money after his house in Senegal burned down in 1993. Diack said he did nothing wrong and is confident of being cleared.

The board also will be updated on the IOC's protracted negotiations with the USOC on a new revenue-sharing agreement. Both sides had hoped to reach an accord this year on the split of marketing and television money, but the talks appear to have hit a roadblock.

"I thought we had made a lot of progress, but we stalled on a lot of issues," IOC finance commission chairman and executive board member Richard Carrion told the AP on Tuesday. "We hope to keep it going, but we both have our own constituencies and there are some real differences that need to be bridged."

At the heart of the dispute is a long-standing formula that gives the U.S. Olympic Committee a 20 percent share of global sponsorship revenue and a 12.75 percent share of U.S. broadcast rights deals. Many international officials believe the U.S. share is excessive and should be redistributed.

The revenue issue was a factor in Chicago's first-round defeat in the vote for the 2016 Olympics. USOC leaders have said they will not consider a new Olympic bid until the revenue matter with the IOC is resolved.

Also up for discussion this week will be the fallout from the fraud case at the Olympic Museum. The former gift shop manager was recently arrested on charges of embezzling $1.6 million to $1.85 million over 10 years.

Three staff members of the IOC's finance department were fired for "negligence" in their oversight of the books, and the division is being overhauled to put in new controls and procedures.

"It bothers us to no end to have something like this occur," Carrion said. "You try to learn from these things."

Carrion said the IOC took quick action once the impropriety was discovered and alerted Swiss authorities to the scam, which involved false invoices. The three IOC employees were dismissed for failing to act on the evidence.

"The controls were skirted," Carrion said. "The three staff members should have paid attention to the signals."

The museum embezzlement case was first reported last week by 3 Wire Sports.

In a separate development, longtime IOC finance director Thierry Sprunger has told the AP he will submit his resignation to the board this week. He cited health issues, "burnout" and a desire to change direction. Sprunger has not been accused of any impropriety.

In addition, the IOC board is expected to give the final OK to London's proposal to take the Olympic torch relay to Ireland.

After human rights protests disrupted the international torch relay ahead of the 2008 Beijing Games, the IOC ruled that future relays must take place only in the host countries.

The Olympic flame will arrive from Greece on May 18, starting a 70-day, 8,000-mile trip across the U.K. before the lighting of the cauldron July 27.

The flame is scheduled to go to Northern Ireland. London organizers are looking for approval to take the flame from there to Dublin, capital of the Republic of Ireland, in a show of political good will.