GENEVA â€” IOC member Frank Fredericks has stepped down from his role overseeing the 2024 Olympic bidding process, days after a $300,000 payment from a banned track official was revealed.
Fredericks announced his withdrawal Tuesday, hours before the IOC executive board met to discuss his case.
The IOC said its ethics commission had recommended provisionally suspending Fredericks from his Olympic roles, including taking his right to vote for the 2024 host in September.
“Paris and Los Angeles are presenting two fantastic candidatures and I do not wish to become a distraction,” said Fredericks, the four-time Olympic silver medallist from Namibia, in a statement.
Stepping aside as IOC evaluation chairman was “in the best interests” of the bidding process, said the former sprinter, whose company received the disputed payment on Oct. 2, 2009. That day, Rio de Janeiro won 2016 Olympic hosting rights.
Fredericks, who won his Olympic medals in the 1990s, would have led an April 23-25 visit to Los Angeles. Paris will be evaluated by an IOC team on May 14-16.
“(I)t is essential that the important work my colleagues are doing is seen as being carried out in a truthful and fair manner,” Fredericks said, adding he would waive his right to vote on Sept. 13 when the IOC meets in Lima, Peru.
The IOC said it appointed Swiss member Patrick Baumann, the secretary general of basketball governing body FIBA, to lead the evaluation panel.
Fredericks also will not take part in July meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland, that are a key stage in the voting contest. IOC members will hear from city campaign leaders and about the evaluation visits.
Fredericks has denied wrongdoing after his integrity â€” and the 2016 Olympic hosting vote â€” was questioned by French daily Le Monde last Friday.
Fredericks said last week he contacted the IOC Ethics Commission ahead of Le Monde revealing that a company linked to him was paid $299,300. The cash was transferred by Papa Massata Diack, the son of Lamine Diack, a disgraced former IAAF president and former long-time IOC member.
The elder Diack is in France where state prosecutors are investigating alleged corruption in the IAAF. His son, who has been banned for life by the IAAF, is evading questioning and thought to be in his native Senegal.
Le Monde reported that Papa Massata Diack’s marketing company received $1.5 million from a Brazilian businessman days before Rio’s victory in a four-city contest. Fredericks, a senior IAAF official, has said he had a marketing contract with Papa Massata Diack’s agency, Pamodzi Sports Consulting, from 2007-11.
“I reiterate that I was never involved with any vote manipulation or for that matter any other inappropriate or illegal practice,” said Fredericks, who joined the IOC in 2004 as an athlete representative and was a member of the IOC executive board at the time of the Rio vote.
“The articles do not only target me, they target the integrity of the International Olympic Committee bidding and elections process for host cities altogether,” he said. “This is why I have been and am still actively co-operating with the IOC Ethics Commission in order for them to conduct a proper and independent investigation.”
The IOC said Tuesday that its board “emphasizes the presumption of innocence.”
The Olympic body is co-operating with French authorities as a civil party in their investigation, which spun off claims that senior IAAF officials extorted money from Russian athletes to cover up doping cases.
On Monday, Fredericks was removed by the IAAF from a five-member task force overseeing the process of Russia’s efforts to regain its status in world track and field. The IAAF suspended Russia in November 2015 when the scale of the extortion conspiracy was detailed.
Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press