France extends corruption probe to Olympic bids process
By Gerard Bon
PARIS (Reuters) - French judges investigating corruption in athletics have extended their inquiry to look into the bidding and voting processes for the hosting of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro and 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, according to France's financial prosecutor.
With the Rio Games only five months away, the news opens up the possibility of the Olympics now being dragged into the scandal which has been rocking its premier sport of athletics.
"We are looking at these elements, but at this stage it is a question of verification. Nothing has been proved," an official from the prosecutor's office said on Tuesday.
In response, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would act on any evidence the prosecutors provided about how the bid processes for the Rio and Tokyo Games were conducted.
Until now, allegations of corruption involving senior officials of the world governing body of athletics, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), have been focused mainly on events organized by the IAAF, which has no say in the awarding of Olympic hosting rights.
The French investigation was opened in December in response to media reports that questioned the way the IAAF awarded its 2021 world championships to the U.S. city of Eugene.
Yet the prospect of the investigation being widened to look at the Olympics bidding too was raised in January when a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission report alleged the involvement of former IAAF President Lamine Diack, who is already being investigated by French authorities.
The WADA commission report suggested up to $5 million of sponsorship money may have been a factor in swaying the vote of Diack to vote for Tokyo rather than Istanbul, which declined to pay the money. Continued...