Samaranch Grilled by Congressional Panel

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Washington, D.C., Dec. 15--Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), went before a panel of lawmakers today to answer questions about the recently-announced IOC reforms.

The 50 reforms, which came on the heels of widespread corruption firstuncovered in Salt Lake City, were adopted last week in Switzerland and aremeant to hold the committee more accountable for its actions. For example,among the reforms are a ban on IOC member visits to bidding cities,manadatory retirement at age 70 and more athletes on the committee.

The panel, members of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight andInvestigation, grilled Samaranch as to why the IOC is to be trusted toimplement the reforms when the corruption and abuse of the system has beenso blatant and prevalant in the past.

One panel member, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, asked the IOC president for his resignation. Samaranch reassured the legislators that he has every intention of making sure the reforms are implemented before the Sydney Olympics in 2000. When asked why the new reforms do not apply to him, Samaranch said there was no need (should the reforms apply to Samaranch, the IOC president would have to relieve his post under the manadatory-retirement-at-70 clause).

In the end, the congressional panel warned that if the reforms were notimplemented, legislation could be pushed through that would make it verydifficult for American companies to be Olympic sponsors.