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Big Juan Nominates Little Juan for IOC Membership -- May 18, 2001

By Stephen Wilson

LAUSANNE, Switzerland. May 18. IN a move certain to open the organization to charges of nepotism, outgoing IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch has nominated his son for membership on the Olympic committee.

Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. was one of seven candidates proposed yesterday for membership by the International Olympic Committee's ruling executive board.

The others were Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates; former Swiss president and defense minister Adolf Ogi; Els Van Breda Vriesman of the Netherlands, president of the International Hockey Federation; Randhir Singh, secretary general of India's national Olympic committee; Timothy Fok,
head of Hong Kong's Olympic committee; and Issa Hayatou of Cameroon.

The candidates will be put forward for election at the IOC session in Moscow July 16, the same day Samaranch steps down after 21 years as president. The votes will be held by secret ballot, with a majority required for election. The seven were selected from a list of 76 proposed candidates.

IOC director general Francois Carrard said Samaranch put forth his son's nomination.

"This is not an exceptional case," Carrard said, noting that seven or eight sons of IOC members have become delegates in the past.

However, it's the first time an IOC president's son has been nominated for membership.

"Being the son of a president doesn't give anyone the right to be appointed or elected," Carrard said. "But he's a candidate. Being the son does not prevent or disqualify anybody from being a candidate. If elected, he would be the IOC member in Spain."

Samaranch Jr., 41, is a vice president of the international modern pentathlon federation.

"He is very active in international sport," Carrard said. "He is active in national sport in Spain. There was no other candidate from Spain."

IOC officials sought to defuse perceptions that the organization was sending the wrong signals by appointing one of its own. The nomination came at a
time when the IOC is still fighting to restore its image after the Salt Lake City vote-buying scandal.

Samaranch and the IOC have insisted the organization has become more democratic, transparent and representative. But Thursday's move likely will
reinforce critics' claims that the IOC is still a self-serving private club.

"There's plenty of precedent," IOC vice president Kevan Gosper of Australia said. "The president is first of all an IOC member and there's nothing to prevent that nomination and it was unanimously supported."

After the scandal, the IOC set up a special nominations commission to screen candidates for membership.

"The rules have been completely met," Gosper said. "It was a very orderly, open process, and he met every criteria [sic]."

Senior IOC member Dick Pound of Canada said he was not surprised by the nomination. "He's not the first son of an IOC member to become a member," he said. "It's a new young member from an important country with a long tradition in the Olympic movement."

Asked about the likely harsh reaction of critics, Pound said, "If it wasn't that, it would be something else."

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