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IOC suspends member for bid misconduct

Pursuing a "zero tolerance" policy against corruption, the International Olympic Committee suspended a senior Bulgarian sports official accused of misconduct yesterday and revoked his credentials for the Athens Olympics. Four lobbyists implicated in alleged vote-peddling for bid cities were also barred from the Games.

Determined to avoid any repeat of the Salt Lake City scandal, the IOC acted swiftly to deal with suggestions of bribery in a British Broadcasting Corp. television program on the bid campaign for the 2012 Summer Games.

"I'm more than disappointed -- I am an angry man," IOC president Jacques Rogge said. "I am angry at the behavior of some people within and without the IOC. The behavior of some people is tarnishing what is a wonderful movement . . . It's always very sad to see some individuals don't respect the rules."

Bulgarian IOC member Ivan Slavkov was secretly filmed by an undercover BBC crew discussing how votes could be bought. The program, aired Wednesday in Britain, also featured four middlemen who said they could secure IOC members' votes for money.

New York, Paris, London, Madrid, and Moscow are vying for the 2012 Games. The IOC will select the host city in July 2005.

The IOC ethics commission submitted a report on the case at the opening of a two-day executive board meeting. The board accepted the panel's recommendations to "provisionally suspend" Slavkov of all his IOC rights and functions pending a full inquiry.

Slavkov contends he knew it was a setup and played along to expose what he thought was a real attempt to corrupt the process -- a defense rejected by the ethics panel.

The IOC also withdrew Slavkov's credentials for the Athens Olympics, which begin Friday. The 64-year-old Slavkov, who heads Bulgaria's national Olympic committee and soccer federation, had been scheduled to arrive today to attend the three-day IOC general assembly beginning Tuesday. Rogge said Slavkov will be given a chance to defend himself at a hearing. The earliest he could be considered for possible expulsion would be at the next IOC session in Singapore in July 2005, Rogge said.

The IOC said it would deny Olympic credentials for the four agents filmed by the BBC -- Serbian-based Goran Takac, Gabor Komyathy of Hungary, Mahmood El Farnawani of Egypt, and Abdul Muttaleb Ahmad of Kuwait. Rogge said Olympic officials and bid cities should have no contact with the men.

Edwards faces ban

Barring a successful appeal, US sprinter Torri Edwards will be suspended for at least two years for taking a banned stimulant, knocking her out of the Olympics and perhaps giving Marion Jones a chance to defend her gold medal in the 100 meters.

A review panel concluded there were no exceptional circumstances that would warrant a lesser penalty, Travis Tygart, director of legal affairs for the US Anti-Doping Agency, told the Associated Press.

"The rule says it's a minimum of two years," Tygart said.

The finding by the panel of the International Association of Athletics Federations has been forwarded to the US arbitration panel that initially heard Edwards's case. That panel will determine Edwards's penalty but has no authority to make it less than a two-year ban, Tygart said.

The panel's official finding is expected next week. Edwards can appeal to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport, whose ruling would be binding. Edwards's lawyer, Emanuel Hudson, did not return several phone calls to his office, but he told The New York Times that Edwards was "very saddened and disappointed" by the ruling.

The world champion in the 100, Edwards tested positive at a meet in Martinique in April, but she blamed a glucose supplement, saying she was unaware it contained the stimulant nikethamide. She said her physician bought the glucose at a store there because she wasn't feeling well. Edwards had argued that there would be no reason to cheat at the meet because there was no prize money and the field was weak. She said she felt compelled to run because she was paid a substantial appearance fee and was the meet's leading attraction.

Edwards was expected to contend for medals in the 200 as well as the 100 in Athens. Her absence could give Jones a chance to defend her gold medal in the 100 meters because it would free up a spot in the event.

Gail Devers, the fourth-place finisher in the 100 at the trials, would be entitled to Edwards's spot. But Devers could decide to focus on the 100-meter hurdles, an event she has dominated for the last decade except at the Olympics. Jones finished fifth at the trials and qualified for the US team only in the long jump.

Relay ruling delayed

The IOC delayed ruling on whether to strip the US 1,600-meter relay team of gold medals from the Sydney Games, prompting criticism from a track official who said it was "not a good message" in the fight against doping. The team, which included Michael Johnson, could lose its medals because of a doping violation by teammate Jerome Young a year before the 2000 Olympics. Young has already been stripped. The IAAF recommended last month that the entire team be penalized because Young should have been ineligible. The IAAF allowed 60 days for appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The deadline is Sept. 18. The US Olympic Committee hasn't appealed, and it was unclear whether any of the runners -- Johnson, twins Alvin and Calvin Harrison, Antonio Pettigrew, and Angelo Taylor -- had done so on their own. If the US team loses its case, Nigeria will be upgraded to gold, Jamaica to silver, and the Bahamas to bronze . . . A member of the Greek Olympic judo team fell from the third-floor balcony of her apartment after an argument with her boyfriend, leaving her hospitalized in critical condition, authorities said. Elli Ioannou, 20, was treated for multiple fractures to her head and body, said Yiannis Papadoyiannakis, the head of the Greek team. She underwent surgery and was placed in intensive care. The fall is under investigation . . . French Open champion Gaston Gaudio pulled out of the Olympics with an injury, the second prominent Argentine tennis player to withdraw from the Games. Gaudio, ranked fifth in the world, aggravated a right heel injury during this week's Cincinnati Masters, and he was unlikely to recover in time for the Olympics, trainer Javier Maquirriain said. Gaudio joins No. 3 Guillermo Coria, who pulled out Wednesday because of shoulder tendinitis . . . Irish distance runner Cathal Lombard tested positive for the banned drug EPO and could be suspended for two years, Irish officials said.

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