Sat, Jul 19, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Senators want to beef up USOC's ethics guidelines


Lawmakers trying to restore the reputation of the scandal-plagued US Olympic Committee want to reinforce its ethics policies.

Senators added language to USOC reform legislation on Thursday spelling out new ethics provisions, including conflict of interest language, an anti-discrimination policy and gift and travel guidelines.

Senator Ernest Hollings said the new guidelines are needed because the current ethics policy clearly has not worked.

The ethics provision was added as the Senate Commerce Committee sent chairman John McCain's bill to the full body for consideration. A draft of a House bill, which has yet to be introduced, also includes a compliance officer and written standards of conduct.

The existing USOC ethics policy is less than two pages long and broadly worded. The committee has not had an ethics officer since Patrick Rodgers quit in January to protest the committee's decision to let CEO Lloyd Ward keep his job despite ethics violations. Ward later resigned under pressure.

The USOC general counsel and ethics committee have been handling ethics issues in the meantime, said USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel.

Hollings' amendment spells out nine points that must be covered in the new ethics policy, ranging from conflicts of interest to a ban on loans from the committee to its employees.

The amendment also requires the USOC to establish a "transparent and objective set of criteria" for cities vying to host the Olympics. Some who led San Francisco's bid to host the 2012 Olympics believe the city lost the competition to New York because a member of the team evaluating bids also was involved in redevelopment of the World Trade Center.

Senator Barbara Boxer, who co-sponsored the ethics amendment, said she supports the change.

The USOC reform bill, sponsored by McCain and Sen. Ted Stevens is built on the recommendations of the USOC task force and an independent Senate-appointed commission. It would replace the USOC's current unwieldy governing structure with a streamlined board of directors and a large Olympic Assembly to act as an adviser on sports issues.

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