Wednesday 15 August 2018

Rio 2016 boss Carlos Nuzman suspended by IOC following arrest in Brazil

Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) president Carlos Arthur Nuzman speaks during the ceremony of Brazil Olympics 2016 Awards at Cidade das Artes on March 29, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) president Carlos Arthur Nuzman speaks during the ceremony of Brazil Olympics 2016 Awards at Cidade das Artes on March 29, 2017 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has suspended the honorary membership of Rio 2016 president Carlos Nuzman following his arrest in Brazil on bribery and fraud charges.

Nuzman has also been withdrawn from the IOC co-ordination commission which is overseeing Tokyo's preparations for the 2020 Games.

And as Nuzman is the president of the Brazilian Olympic committee too, that body has also been suspended, meaning any payments from the IOC are frozen and it cannot vote on Olympic-related matters.

Brazilian athletes, however, are not affected and the country will still be able to send a team to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The IOC's ethics commission has been investigating Nuzman ever since his house was among several raided by the Brazilian authorities last month.

Those raids followed a tip-off from French prosecutors who have been investigating former world athletics boss Lamine Diack and his associates for the last two years - an inquiry that has already unearthed evidence of widespread corruption in global sport.

But Nuzman and Rio 2016's general director Leonardo Gryner were not actually arrested until Thursday.

According to the Brazilian media, Nuzman is accused of being the link between Brazilian businessman Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho, nicknamed 'King Arthur', and Diack for bribes to African IOC members ahead of the 2009 vote which awarded the Games to the South American city.

The 2009 vote was held in Copenhagen and Rio beat Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo, much to the annoyance of former US president Barack Obama who turned up in person to lobby on behalf of his home city.

The 75-year-old Nuzman, who played basketball for Brazil in the 1964 Olympics, denies any wrongdoing.

In a statement, the IOC said it "takes note" of Nuzman's arrest and its chief ethics and compliance officer has asked the Brazilian authorities for more information so it can proceed with its own investigation.

"(But) given the new facts, the IOC ethics commission may consider provisional measures while respecting Mr Nuzman's right to be heard," it said, before adding "the presumption of innocence prevails".

The ethics commission is chaired by former United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon and it can recommend action against individuals to the IOC's executive board.

Diack's IOC membership was provisionally suspended a week after his arrest in France in November 2015 and he resigned the following day.

The IOC said on Thursday it had "taken note" of Nuzman's arrest and its ethics commission would consider "provisional measures" while respecting the "presumption of innocence".

Those considerations did not take long, however, and on Friday the IOC's executive board has moved faster and further than most observers expected.

Suspending Nuzman from his IOC positions is one thing but the measures taken against COB (the Brazilian Olympic committee) are highly unusual, which only underlines the seriousness of the crisis developing around Rio 2016.

In a statement, the IOC said COB is being sanctioned because it was responsible for "the candidature of Rio de Janeiro in 2009".

It added: "This provisional suspension may be lifted partly or fully when the governance issues of the COB have been addressed to the satisfaction of the executive board."

As well as suspending the COB, the IOC has also provisionally ended its relationship with Rio 2016's organising committee.

Officially, this link ended last year but because of Rio 2016's ongoing financial difficulties, the IOC and international sports federations have been helping to pay outstanding bills.

That will now be suspended until the organising committee's "governance issues" have been addressed.

The IOC's statement concludes with a request to the relevant authorities in Brazil, France and elsewhere for assistance in its own investigation into what has happened in regard to Rio 2016.

Press Association

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