- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2004

DENVER (AP) — Former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth was appointed chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee’s board of directors yesterday, two decades after leading the Los Angeles Games to a record profit.

Ueberroth, 66, will lead the 11-person volunteer board in setting USOC policy and overseeing its finances more than a year after the organization was the focus of a congressional investigation.

As chief organizer of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Ueberroth helped the games turn a $225million profit. He served as commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1984 to 1989.

Ueberroth’s appointment and the new board are part of an overhaul put in place more than a year after ethics charges against the USOC’s former chief executive, Lloyd Ward, prompted a congressional investigation. Ward later resigned, along with seven other leaders.

Ueberroth declined to offer a timeline for selecting a permanent CEO and had no comment on the doping scandal threatening some of the top U.S. track and field athletes planning to attend the Athens Games in August.

“We’re not going to have all the solutions, all the answers, but we’re going to be in a short-term, highly intensive learning mode,” he said.

A restructuring plan was approved in October when the unwieldy 125-member USOC board voted itself out of existence and dissolved the volunteer executive committee.

The new board includes four independent members, three American International Olympic Committee members and four others nominated by athletes and sports organizations.

Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a 1964 Olympian in judo who was a leader in the push for reform, said he had absolute confidence in Ueberroth and the USOC’s new governing structure.

“One of my big concerns in all this discussion we’ve had in Congress is the Olympic Committee had gotten off track and some in the upper echelon had developed a culture of privilege at the expense of the athletes,” said Campbell, a Colorado Republican. “I don’t worry about that @ all with Peter at the helm.”

Campbell said USOC reform legislation likely would be withdrawn.

“If they’re doing it voluntarily, I don’t see any reason why we need to do it legislatively,” he said.

Ueberroth is no stranger to troubles in the Olympic movement. He served on a task force that guided the rebuilding of the IOC after six members were expelled and four resigned in a scandal surrounding Salt Lake City’s successful bid for the 2002 Games.

Ueberroth, who is chairman of the California-based Contrarian Group Inc. investment company, was a candidate for governor of California last year but withdrew after a month.

After a slew of top USOC leaders, including Ward and president Marty Mankamyer, resigned in spring 2003, former Olympic wrestler Jim Scherr was named the fifth CEO since 2000 and the 12th since the USOC was formed in 1978. University of Michigan athletic director Bill Martin was appointed the third president in less than a year.

Both positions are temporary until after the Athens Games. Scherr is considered a candidate for the permanent job.

“We’re not going to be changing directions in any meaningful way,” Ueberroth said.

Asked about the doping scandal, Scherr said the USOC will protect athletes’ rights throughout the investigation.

“We have an obligation to the rest of the world and to this country to field a clean team in these Olympic Games and in every Olympic Games,” he said. “We intend to and will make all efforts possible to send a clean team to the Games.”

Ueberroth also said the USOC will support New York City’s bid to play host to the 2012 Games.

“That’s something we believe in, and we’ll do our best,” he said.

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