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  • U.S. Rebuked for Athletes' Commission Election Violation


    USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel said his committee did not intend to push the rules. (ATR)
    (ATR) Competition is intensifying for four new places on the IOC Athletes' Commission, with several warnings issued after breaches of election regulations.

    A field of 30 candidates is participating in the election, which is open to more than 10,000 accredited athletes from 204 nations at the Beijing Games.

    The four successful candidates will become Athletes’ Commission members and will also become IOC members for one eight-year term.

    In the latest election incident, the U.S. Olympic Committee apologized to fellow NOCs at the daily Chef de Mission meeting after offering $50 vouchers to “encourage” its team members to vote.

    “We just wanted to make sure that they voted before they left the village,” USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel tells Around the Rings.

    “There was no intent to push the line with the rules. We were simply encouraging the athletes to vote.”

    He explains that all U.S. athletes will receive one of the vouchers – redeemable for the purchase of merchandise at USA House in Beijing – when checking out of the village.

    Seibel adds that the vouchers offered were not in addition to those they will all receive, but a chance to receive them earlier by voting.

    No other team members from other NOCs are being offered the vouchers, he says.

    But the U.S. initiative contravened regulations of the IOC Election Commission, resulting in a warning.

    According to IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies, another warning went to an athlete “distributing leaflets in a place she shouldn't have been”.

    “Both cases have been dealt (with), reprimands given for both and communicated in the village,” she said.

    USA women’s football team captain Julie Foudy is the USOC candidate.

    “We are very proud of her. In our view she is an outstanding candidate,” Seibel said.
    A poster displays all of the Commission candidates. (ATR)

    “With her passion for sport and her commitment to the Olympic movement, we think she will make a terrific member of the IOC.”

    He said he is not aware of reports of NOCs cooperating by issuing sample voting ‘tickets’ ahead of the election. Under this scenario, athletes representing various NOCs would support one another’s candidacies.

    The IOC allows candidates and their respective supporters to publish approved documents that can be distributed inside the Olympic Village.

    Nations with the largest athlete numbers – including China, the U.S., Germany and Australia – typically have an advantage in the process.

    To be eligible for the Athletes’ Commission candidates must have competed in the 2004 Games or the current Olympics.

    Voting offices are set up in each of the Olympic Villages in Beijing, Qingdao and Hong Kong, as well as in the four cities hosting soccer competitions.

    Terms on the Athletes’ Commission are ending for Sergey Bubka (Russia), Robert Ctvrtlik (USA), Barbara Kendall (New Zealand) and Alexander Popov (Russia).

    Ballots must be marked for four athletes from four different sports to ensure diverse representation.

    Tennis greats Justine Henin of Belgium, Amelie Mauresmo of France and Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario of Spain will battle off the court for one of the coveted spots.

    Russia’s Popov, whose current term is expiring, is running for re-election against six other athletes from aquatic sports, including Australia's Grant Hackett.
    Julie Foudy, a veteran of two Olympic Games, may have an edge in the election due to the large contingent of U.S. athletes. (Getty Images)

    Other big names on the ballot include Liu Xiang of China (athletics), Foudy of the United States (football) and Wilson Kipketer of Denmark (athletics).

    Voting closes August 20 (Thursday) and new members will officially be introduced during the closing ceremony.

    Frank Fredericks of Namibia, who won silver in the 100m and 200m sprints at both the 1992 Games in Barcelona and Atlanta in 1996, was this month elected by the commission to succeed Bubka as chairman.

    The Athletes' Commission includes 12 members who are elected by athletes competing in the Olympic Games.

    Up to seven athletes can also be appointed by the IOC President "to ensure a balance between regions, genders and sports."

    The Commission also includes a representative of the International Paralympic Committee and a representative of the World Olympians Association.

    Created in 1981, the IOC Athletes' Commission is the link between the Olympic athletes and the IOC and serves as the athletes' voice within the Olympic Movement.

    Women's participation in sport, the environment and support for humanitarian projects are among the areas in which members of the commission play a crucial role.

    Candidates (in alphabetical order) on the ballot in Beijing are:

    Luciana Aymar (Argentina, Field Hockey); Claudia Bokel (Germany, Fencing); Igor Boraska (Croatia, Rowing); Iztok Čop (Slovenia, Rowing); Khishigbat Erdenet-Od (Mongolia, Judo); Susana Feitor (Portugal, Athletics); Julie Foudy (USA, Football); Grant Hackett (Australia, Aquatics); Justine Henin (Belgium, Tennis); Chris Hoy (Great Britain, Cycling); Chih-Hsiung Huang (Chinese Taipei, Taekwondo); Salim Iles (Algeria, Aquatics); Otylia Jedrzejczak (Poland, Aquatics); Barbara Kendall (New Zealand, Sailing); Wilson Kipketer (Denmark, Athletics); Ching Li (Hong Kong, Table Tennis); Liu Xiang (China, Athletics); Tereza Marinova (Bulgaria, Athletics); Amélie Mauresmo (France, Tennis); Dae Sung Moon (Korea, Taekwondo); Martina Moravcova (Slovakia, Aquatics); Koji Murofushi (Japan, Athletics); Alexander Popov (Russia, Aquatics); Camelia Alina Potec (Romania, Aquatics); Yumilka Ruiz-Luaces (Cuba, Volleyball); Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario (Spain, Tennis); Anna Sorokina (Ukraine, Aquatics); Nikola Stojic (Serbia, Rowing); Paul Tergat (Kenya, Athletics); Pedro Yang (Guatemala, Badminton).

    Written by
    Anthony Stavrinos
    in Beijing
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