RIO DE JANEIRO — A top International Olympic Committee member wants his organization to act with "more teeth" in response to a vote-buying scheme to land last year’s Rio Olympics. Richard Pound says the Olympic body is taking "hit after hit in the eyes of the world."
Carlos Nuzman, an IOC member who headed the organizing committee for Rio, was held for police questioning this week.
The graft inquiry could overshadow the IOC meetings next week in Lima, Peru, where the Summer Games will be awarded to Paris for 2024 and to Los Angeles for 2028.
Pound, a Canadian and the longest-serving IOC member, called the scandal surrounding Nuzman "a mess" and suggested the Brazilian should be asked to give up his membership.
"We need some more teeth in this because we are taking hit after hit in the eyes of the world and we’re not seen to be doing anything," Pound told The Associated Press. "In fact, we probably aren’t doing much other than waiting to see if somebody else tells us that one of our member is offside — or several members are offside."
The IOC has said it was waiting to be "fully informed" before it acts on Nuzman.
"The IOC is very committed to the integrity of our organization," IOC President Thomas Bach said. "This is why we are taking this seriously and we are watching it closely.
"The IOC will take all appropriate measures and sanctions where evidence is provided."
Nuzman was detained by police on Tuesday in Rio de Janeiro. French and Brazilian authorities say he was a central figure in channeling $2 million to Lamine Diack through a Caribbean account held by his son, Papa Massata Diack. The elder Diack is a former IOC member from Senegal who was a force in the IOC African bloc.
The widening case has also implicated four-time Olympic medallist Frank Fredericks. The former sprinter from Namibia has said a $300,000 payment he received from Diack’s son on the day Rio won the vote was for legitimate consultancy work.
Fredericks, an IOC member, lost his place on an IOC inspection team to visit Paris and Los Angeles. He has denied wrongdoing, and the IOC says it respects the "presumption of innocence."
News reports in Brazil said police found $150,000 in cash in Nuzman’s home in Rio, reportedly divided into five currencies. His passports were also seized.
Pound said there were consistent reports that Nuzman was a poor leader of the Rio Olympics, which he said turned "into manure" with organizational problems and budget shortfalls. He said there were no reports of financial corruption connected the Brazilian.
"There were clearly all kind of complaints about him, about his conduct coming out of Brazil and going to the IOC," Pound said. "I remember because I got copied on some of them. So the fact there was smoke or concern, it must have been pretty obvious."
Pound said many of the problems with the Rio Games "were not solved by him (Nuzman), but created by him."
A year after the Rio Olympics ended , most of the sports venues are "white elephants," with reports Brazil spent as much as $20 billion in private and public money for organize South America’s first Olympics.
Michael Payne, the former IOC head of marketing, told the AP that "few are very surprised" about Nuzman’s detention.
Payne, now a consultant, worked on the early stages of the Rio Olympics. He said he had no hint of corruption and warns that these problems will not be easily overcome.
"It will be a little difficult for the IOC to move on from the Rio legacy because you keep being brought back to it," Payne said.