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Washingnton, D.C., Nov. 16 (AP by Matt Kelley)–Backers of Salt Lake City’s bid to play host to the 2002 Winter Olympics paid a former top official of the U.S. Olympic Committee about $65,000 to help make the bid a success, an internal investigation found.
The USOC forced Alfredo La Mont to resign in January as head of international affairs after learning of his clandestine links with Salt Lake City organizers. The Salt Lake City payments were “substantial conflicts of interest” that La Mont never disclosed to other USOC officials, according to an internal report obtained by The Associated Press.
The report said most of the money came in the form of consulting contracts with two companies linked to La Mont. It said at least $3,000 of that money then went to the son of a member of the International Olympic Committee, which voted in 1995 to hold the 2002 Winter Games in Utah.
The report also includes a letter from that IOC member, Austin Sealy of Barbados, in which Sealy refused to accept La Mont’s initial offer of a $3,000 monthly “retainer” in the week before the 1995 vote.
“I do not want to become involved in any conflict-of-interest situation or indeed in any form of activity which might raise questions,” Sealy wrote to La Mont.
Sealy told The Associated Press in February that La Mont never mentioned Salt Lake City in connection with the $3,000 check.
The IOC gave Sealy a written reprimand for his dealings with La Mont and the Salt Lake City bid. Ten other IOC members were ousted or quit the committee for their roles in taking part of more than $1 million in largess that boosters of the Utah games paid in exchange for votes.
Contacted by telephone Monday at his Colorado Springs, Colo., home, La Mont said his lawyer told him not to comment.
USOC spokesman Mike Moran said the organization plans no legal action against La Mont, but a Justice Department investigation is continuing. A former Salt Lake City businessman has pleaded guilty to a tax fraud charge in that investigation, and the son of a South Korean IOC member has been accused of lying to the FBI.
The report prepared by USOC’s law firm, Hogan and Hartson, said the Salt Lake Organizing Committee paid for information about and influence with IOC members through two firms linked to La Mont: Citius and ARCA. The Salt Lake City organizers paid Citius $45,700 and ARCA $19,000, as well as giving La Mont a $112 pair of ski bindings and a $1,027 check to reimburse him for a dinner with sports officials in Mexico, the report said.
Copyright (c) 1999 The Associated Press