Namibian Olympics hero Fredericks quits IOC post amid corruption claims
By Timo Shihepo
WINDHOEK – NamibianOlympics hero, Frankie Fredericks, has resigned from his position as the head of the International Olympic Committee’s evaluation commission.
Fredericks’ decision follows media reports last week that implicated him in a corruption scandal. French media outlet, Le Monde, last Friday reported that the four-time Olympics silver medallist, who also serves on the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), received R3.3 million (US$299,300) in 2009 on the day that Rio de Janeiro was awarded hosting rights for the 2016 Olympics.
The story came up as a result of criminal investigations into widespread corruption in world athletics. Le Monde reported that the former Olympian received money from Papa Massata Diack, son of Lamine Diack, the disgraced former president of IAAF.
The newspaper chronicled that Matlock Capital Group, owned by Brazilian tycoon Arthur Cesar de Menezes Soares Filho, paid US$1.5 million to Diack’s company, Pamodzi Sports Consulting, ahead of the 2016 Olympics hosting vote and transferred another
US$500,000 to Diack’s Russian bank account. Diack is said to have transferred US$299,300 to Yemi Limited, the company linked to Fredericks, on October 2, the same day Rio de Janeiro won the rights to host the Olympics last year.
Diack has been under the radar of French prosecutors, who are investigating on corruption charges linked to covering up Russian doping cases in a separate scandal, and has since been banned for life from athletics.
Fredericks explained that the payment from Pamodzi Sports Consulting to Yemi Limited was for services rendered that had nothing to do with the Olympics.
“The payment has nothing whatsoever to do with the Olympic Games. By the way, I was not an IAAF board member at the time, but an IAAF ambassador, and did not breach any regulation or rule of ethics,” he told Le Monde.
As head of the evaluation commission, Fredericks was tasked to lead an IOC inspection team to Los Angeles and Paris, which are vying to host the 2024 Olympics Games.
The 49-year-old former Olympian has strongly denied claims made by Le Monde that he could have been involved in alleged manipulation of the vote for the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games.
In a statement posted on his official Facebook page on Tuesday, he said: “I categorically deny any direct or indirect involvement in any untoward conduct and confirm that I have never breached any law, regulation or rule of ethics in respect of any IOC election process.
“I categorically deny any direct or indirect involvement in any untoward conduct and confirm that I have never breached any law, regulation or rule of ethics in respect of any IOC election process.
“The articles do not only target me, they target the integrity of the International Olympic Committee bidding and elections process for host cities altogether. Of course, all election processes should be seen to be free and fair.
“This is why I have been and am still actively cooperating with the IOC Ethics Commission in order for them to conduct a proper and independent investigation,” he said. Fredericks further rubbished media reports that he turned himself over to the IOC Ethics Commission following Le Monde’s exposé.
“The terminology used in the media to the effect that I handed myself over to the IOC Ethics Commission creates the wrong impression.
The fact is that I made a statement to the Commission and will continue to give my full cooperation to a proper investigation of these reports and then await the outcome of this independent process.
“It is of course in my highest interest to clear myself of the negative insinuations against me and my role within the IOC as soon as possible in order to prevent any further damage to my reputation and that of the IOC. “I believe in the integrity of the election processes of the IOC and never noticed anything untoward to make me doubt this. I reiterate that I was never involved with any vote manipulation or for that matter any other inappropriate or illegal practice,” Fredericks argued in the statement.
“Nonetheless, I have personally decided that it is in the best interest of the good functioning of the International Olympic Committee candidature process that I step aside as Chairperson of the 2024 Evaluation Commission, because it is essential that the important work my colleagues are doing is seen as being carried out in a truthful and fair manner.
“Paris and Los Angeles are presenting two fantastic candidatures and I do not wish to become a distraction from this great contest. I will not attend the IOC city meetings in July and will not participate during the vote for the 2024 city. I also temporarily step aside as the chair of the YOG 2018 coordination,” he said.
He added that he will continue to cooperate with the IOC Ethics Commission. He said he has no doubt that the Commission will conclude that the reports and insinuations contained are defatory in character.
In a statement, the IAAF said Fredericks has been cooperative and turned himself into the IAAF Ethics Commission immediately after a link was made between this contractual payment and the vote for the host city of the Olympic Games 2016.
“The ethics board will carefully consider the information provided to it, including seeking any further information or clarification which it considers it needs in order to determine whether these matters warrant the opening of a formal investigation.”