- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

1:36 p.m.

BERN, Switzerland — Marc Hodler, the Swiss International Olympic Committee member who blew the whistle on corruption in the Salt Lake City Olympics bidding process, died today. He was 87.

Hodler, who was president of the international ski federation from 1951 to 1998, died in Bern after a “short, serious illness,” his son Beat said.

The IOC said Hodler suffered a stroke Sunday.

“The IOC expresses its sadness at the passing of a member who dedicated so much to the Olympic movement,” IOC president Jacques Rogge said in a statement after arriving on a visit to Tokyo. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Hodler’s family.”

Hodler, an IOC member since 1963, set off the bid scandal that led to the biggest ethics crisis in the history of the committee. In 1998, he detailed what he called systematic buying and selling of votes in the host-city selection process for the 2002 Winter Games.

The crisis led to an unprecedented purge of IOC members, with six delegates expelled and four resigning for receiving improper gifts or benefits.

The IOC also enacted a series of reforms, including a ban on visits by members to bidding cities.

Hodler, a lawyer, was an IOC vice president from 1993 to 1997 and served four terms on the rule-making executive board.

He was the first official to use the word bribe to describe the methods used by Salt Lake City to win the vote for the 2002 Games.

In November 1998, a Salt Lake television station obtained a leaked document disclosing that the city’s Olympic bid team had set up a scholarship fund for the relatives of IOC members.

The story remained mainly a local controversy until two weeks later, when Hodler — the IOC official with oversight over the Salt Lake Games — raised the stakes by declaring that the college tuition payments amounted to bribes.

He was just getting warmed up.

On Dec. 12, 1998, he unleashed a series of corruption claims that shook the IOC to its foundations.

The marble lobby of the IOC headquarters was the setting for extraordinary scenes as Hodler, encircled by reporters, held court.

At one point, he took over a podium reserved for a sponsorship news conference and delivered his own impromptu briefing, while then IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch and other officials watched in stunned silence.

Among Hodler’s charges:

• Vote buying was common in the selection of Olympic host cities, including the successful bids of Atlanta; Nagano, Japan; Sydney, Australia; and Salt Lake.

• Five percent to 7 percent of IOC members were open to bribes.

• Four agents, including one unidentified IOC member, bought and sold blocs of votes for up to $1 million.

• Agents demanded payment of $3 million to $5 million from cities winning the bid.

The IOC set up an internal investigation, which led to the ouster of 10 members and severe warnings for others. Hodler’s principal claims — that agents bought and sold votes for big sums of money — were never confirmed, however.

The scandal led to the resignations of Salt Lake’s top two Olympic officials, Frank Joklik and Dave Johnson. Mitt Romney, a former venture capitalist and current Massachusetts governor, took over as the new organizing chief.

The scandal spread to Sydney, Nagano, Atlanta and other cities, where bidding excesses were exposed.

Besides his son Beat, Hodler is survived by his wife, Anna Rosa, and another son, Martin.

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