IOC's Coles Forced to Pay For Ski Trips

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Salt Lake City, UT July 30 (AP)--When Australian Phillip Coles was fighting to keep his International Olympic Committee membership during the Salt Lake City bribery scandal, he offered to repay ski-trip expenses that were picked up by the bid committee.

The bid committee's successor, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, has taken him at his word and billed him $42,000.

The statement of expenses was sent July 15 to Coles' attorney, Simon Rofe, The Salt Lake Tribune reported today.

SLOC spokeswoman Caroline Shaw said, however, ``The organizing committee does not believe Mr. Coles is legally obligated to pay SLOC.''

As of Thursday, neither Coles nor Rofe had responded to the statement, Shaw said.

Efforts to contact Rofe late Thursday were unsuccessful.

The investigation into the Salt Lake City bid committee's successful effort to win the 2002 Winter Games resulted in six IOC members being expelled and four resigning. The bid committee distributed to IOC members at least $1 million in direct payments, scholarships, free medical care, travel allowances and lavish gifts.

Coles was allowed to keep his IOC membership, but was reprimanded. He also was forced to resign from the Sydney organizing committee and was banned for two years from being a member of any IOC commission or working group.

Coles first was linked to the scandal in a Feb. 9 report to the SLOC board from its independent ethics panel. It stated that Coles, IOC member Willi Kaltschmitt Lujan of Guatemala and their spouses made four visits to the United States at Salt Lake City bid committee expense, including a Super Bowl trip.

The Australian responded that the ethics panel report was inaccurate and defended himself before an IOC investigative commission, at which time he promised to pay out-of-pocket expenses picked up by the bid committee.

IOC investigators said Coles took five trips to Utah between 1991 and 1998.

In addition, his daughter and son-in-law also were treated to a ski trip at bid-committee expense five months before Salt Lake City's first-ballot victory in 1995. Coles said he did not know until later that the bid committee paid for his daughter's vacation.

The IOC accepted Cole's explanation that only one of his two prevote trips to the Deer Valley resort occurred when Salt Lake City officially was a candidate, and thus was within IOC guidelines. The three post-vote trips involved no ``quid pro quo'' for votes and were not grounds for dismissal, the IOC said.

IOC investigators also found no wrongdoing in allegations that Coles accepted expensive jewelry from the Athens bid committee in its unsuccessful pursuit of the 1996 Summer Olympics.

Copyright (c) 1999 The Associated Press