Swiss IOC official reprimanded in ethics case
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rene Fasel, a senior Olympic official who heads the International Ice Hockey Federation, was reprimanded by the IOC on Wednesday for ethics violations that "tarnish the reputation" of the Olympic movement.
Fasel, a member of the International Olympic Committee executive board, was censured for breaking conflict-of-interest rules but escaped without any suspension.
The Swiss official was treated less harshly than some lower-ranking IOC members who have been barred from serving on IOC commissions as well as reprimanded in other ethics cases.
The case is still a serious embarrassment for Fasel, who sits on the IOC's highest body, leads a major international federation and headed the IOC's coordination commission for the Vancouver Games.
Following an investigation by the IOC ethics commission, the board said Fasel breached rules by helping a friend secure "substantial financial advantages" in connection with a television and marketing rights deal.
The board said Fasel's conduct was "likely to tarnish the reputation of the Olympic movement."
Fasel has been president of the IIHF since 1994 and an IOC member since 1995.
The investigation followed allegations in a Swiss newspaper last year that Fasel profited from deals struck by the hockey body's marketing partner, Infront Sport Media, and Proc AG, a company run by a childhood friend.
Fasel denied receiving money, but acknowledged that he showed poor judgment in helping his friend's business.
The IOC said it limited Fasel to a public reprimand out of "the principle of proportionality and taking into consideration the apologies."
Under the IOC ethics code, members "must not act in a manner likely to tarnish the reputation of the Olympic Movement or place themselves in any conflict of interest situation."
"The perception of conduct by the public and within the Olympic Movement may alone constitute tarnishing of its reputation," the IOC said.
The IOC said the damage to the IOC's image was greater because of Fasel's high-profile roles in the Olympic world.
Fasel was cleared of wrongdoing by the IIHF's ruling council in September after it received a report from the audit firm Deloitte.
The case was referred to the IOC ethics commission, which heard evidence from Fasel.
The IOC noted that the IIHF's investigative panel had experienced the "greatest difficulty" in obtaining the necessary information and documents for the probe.
The IOC said Fasel maintained he had no consulting agreement with Infront but helped a friend get access to the sports market in Asia.
"Today, I realize that this likely was a case of poor judgment. For this I apologize," he was quoted as saying.
The IOC tightened its ethics rules after the Salt Lake City bidding scandal, which led to the expulsion or resignation of 10 members in 1999 and 2000 for accepting cash, scholarships, medical treatment, lavish gifts and other improper inducements.
In several ethics cases in recent years, IOC members have not only been reprimanded but also barred from serving on any IOC commissions for five years. They include South Korea's Lee Kun-hee and Park Yong-sung and Guy Drut and the late Henri Serandour of France.