Lausanne, Switzerland Dec. 9 (AP by, Stephen Wilson)–IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch will meet with FBI agents investigating the Salt Lake City bribery scandal. But it won’t be next week while he’s in Washington for a Congressional hearing.
Those are the terms of an agreement reached Thursday between the International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Justice Department.
The deal apparently ensures that Samaranch will not face the embarrassment of being stopped for questioning or served with a subpoena when he arrives in the United States next week.
Instead, Samaranch will submit to a “voluntary interview” with investigators at a later date suitable to both sides.
Samaranch said earlier this week he didn’t expect to be approached by the FBI next week.
“If the FBI wants to meet with me, I am ready, but not on this occasion,” he said, adding that he has to travel to Spain for a meeting the day after the congressional hearing.
Francois Carrard, the IOC’s director general, said Wednesday that Samaranch was not a target of the investigation.
“There is no need to negotiate immunity for him,” he said.
Samaranch is due to appear next Wednesday before the House Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, chaired by Michigan Republican Fred Upton.
It will be Samaranch’s first trip to the United States since the Salt Lake scandal broke a year ago. More than $1.2 million in cash, scholarships, gifts and other inducements were offered to IOC members and their families during the winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
The Justice Department investigation has led to charges against two people so far.
Utah businessman David Simmons pleaded guilty Aug. 3 to a federal misdemeanor tax charge. He said he helped create a sham job for John Kim, son of powerful South Korean IOC executive board member Kim Un-Yong.
John Kim was indicted in September on federal charges that he lied to investigators and entered the United States with a fraudulently obtained green card.
The agreement on Samaranch’s meeting with the FBI came as the IOC prepared for this weekend’s crucial general assembly. Members will vote on a package of reforms designed to restructure the IOC and prevent any further abuses.
In other developments Thursday:
_ The IOC said that NHL players probably would compete at the Salt Lake Games.
“The International Ice Hockey Federation has more or less finalized it,” IOC sports director Gilbert Felli said. “The discussions between the federation and the NHL are going in the right direction.”
NHL players competed in the Olympics for the first time in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.
The NHL stopped its season for two weeks but was unhappy most of the games had poor broadcast times in the United States and received scant attention from network television.
The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association don’t want to shut down the season for two weeks again.
_ Fourteen new sports are lobbying for inclusion in the 2004 Summer Games in Athens, Greece.
They are: parachuting, billiards, bocce, dance sport (ballroom dancing), golf, karate, bowling, roller skating, rugby, water skiing, racquetball, squash, underwater swimming and surfing.
Water skiing is believed to have the best chance.
Felli said the IOC was evaluating the requests, and the executive board might announce a decision in February.
Twenty-eight sports are on the program for next year’s Sydney Games. They include two new Olympic sports: triathlon and taekwondo.
Copyright © 1999 The Associated Press