Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Furlong's fuzzy math

VANOC CEO John Furlong (left) went bobsledding to nowhere with Alexander Popov (rear) during an Omega-sponsored photo op at the Vancouver Olympics. Popov was one of three Russian IOC members eligible to vote for the 2010 host. Furlong revealed in his book Patriot Hearts, that he cut a secret deal for Russia's votes.

The International Olympic Committee has read John Furlong's memoir Patriot Hearts and it wants Furlong to explain something. Specifically, it wants more details about the secret deal with Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov for the votes of Russia's IOC members at the July 2, 2003 election of the 2010 Games host city.

In a nutshell, Furlong promised Luzhkov the Vancouver bid team would hold a "how to build your own bid" seminar for the Moscow 2012 Summer Games bid team. Luzhkov agreed that would be enough for Russian IOC members to vote for Vancouver at the 115th IOC session in Prague.

I was first to report on this on Jan. 31. Here is my Feb. 23 update. Luzhkov, by the way, was fired by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev last September. There is even a WikiLeak about Luzhkov.

In Patriot Hearts, Furlong incorrectly claims the Russians had "six or seven" votes. The roll call for the vote shows only three Russian IOC members with voting privileges: Russian Olympic Committee honorary president Vitaly Smirnov, Russian Tennis Federation president Shamil Tarpischev and four-time gold Olympic medal swimmer Alexander Popov (above). All three are now on the Sochi 2014 advisory board. See the full circa 2003 list of IOC members below.

As it happened, Vancouver beat PyeongChang 56-53. A slim, three-vote margin. The Games came and went. Moscow lost its 2012 bid, but Sochi, Russia beat PyeongChang for the 2014 Winter Games. PyeongChang hopes third time's a charm as it battles Annecy, France and Munich, Germany for the 2018 gig.

Who voted for whom on July 2, 2003 was never revealed. There were 126 eligible IOC members, but seven were disallowed from voting because they were from the three bid countries. That left 119 voters, but only 109 were counted on the last ballot. For some reason never fully explained, 10 votes were not cast or counted.

Regardless of whether the Russians respected the Luzhkov deal, Vancouver's previous claim to submitting a lily-white bid is over. Furlong claims it was all done by the rules, but one need only read the IOC's own ethics manual to see it was not legal. No promises of any value are allowed.

Expect the IOC to review the matter and line-up its specially appointed group of members in finely tailored suits to wag their fingers and go "tsk-tsk" in their central European accents during a future closed-door IOC board meeting. The Vancouver Games are over and there's no putting this toothpaste back where it came from.

Or hell could freeze over and the IOC could tell Furlong he broke the rules and he's forever unfit to ever be appointed to the Lausanne, Switzerland-based non-governmental sports government.

International Olympic Committee Prague 2003 Session Annex Roll Call

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