By Karolos Grohmann
DUBAI (Reuters) - One of the world's most powerful winter sports chiefs, Rene Fasel, escaped any serious punishment when the IOC chose to reprimand him Wednesday for a conflict of interest over broadcasting rights.
"The Executive Board found that by helping a person with whom he was friends to offer his services to the company responsible for exploiting the television and the marketing rights of the IF of which he is President, and thereby obtaining substantial financial advantages for him, Fasel was in breach of the Rules Concerning Conflicts of Interests...and his conduct was likely to tarnish the reputation of the Olympic Movement," the IOC said in a statement.
It said Fasel, also a member of the powerful IOC Executive Board, had helped his friend's company clinch a deal with the company controlling the rights and was 'personally' involved in various marketing contract negotiations.
ADMISSION OF GUILT
"There has never been any consulting agreement between myself and Infront (the company controlling TV and marketing rights of the IHHF)," he said.
"I have, however, helped a long-time friend to offer his services to Infront, and I have privately supported him in the implementation of his mandate.
"For example, I have helped him with opening doors in the Asian market to get access to the Asian sports network. Today, I realize that this likely was a case of poor judgment. For this I apologize," Fasel had said.
While the IOC said the "reputational damage is all the greater given Fasel's important responsibilities within the IOC," it had opted to reprimand him for his behavior and not to remove him from any of his IOC posts.
"Respecting the principle of proportionality and taking into consideration the apologies offered by Fasel, the Ethics Commission considers it necessary to recommend that the Executive Board remind Mr Ren Fasel of his duty to respect the Olympic Charter and the Code of Ethics and to issue him with a reprimand," it said.
Fasel's punishment, despite his senior position, is lighter than in the most recent cases, where less senior members were reprimanded and banned from sitting on any IOC commission for five years.
(Editing by Miles Evans)