Samaranch `breached rule on gifts'


International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Juan Antonio Samaranch is alleged to have broken the rules over gifts to IOC members. An American report claims that he received two firearms from Salt Lake City's winning Olympic bid committee.

The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper alleges that Samaranch was given a Browning rifle and shotgun worth almost $1,000 (£600) during the city's triumphant bid to stage the 2002 Winter Games.

Rich Bauter, a Browning vicepresident, told the paper that the firearms were delivered from a Belgian warehouse to Browning's Swiss distributor and given to Samaranch in May of 1995, one month before the IOC chose Salt Lake as host. The bid committee accepted the bill for the firearms.

Rules at the time forbid any IOC member from accepting gifts of more than $150 (£90) in value.

Samaranch has appointed an IOC panel to investigate allegations that the Salt Lake bid committee gave scholarships, free medical care and other gifts to IOC members and their relatives. He has vowed to oust any IOC member found guilty of corruption.

The US Justice Department, Salt Lake organising committee ethics panel and the US Olympic Committee are also probing into reports of improper deals in the Salt Lake bid.

The firearms Samaranch is alleged to have been given were a semi-automatic shotgun worth $475 (£280) and a bolt-action rifle worth about $500 (£300).

It is claimed that nearly $10,000 (£6,600) worth of shotguns and rifles were sold to the Salt Lake bid committee at wholesale prices to support the City's Olympic ambitions.

The bid committee also reportedly gave Samaranch an American Indian chief's head-dress and presented a quilt estimated at between $1,000 and $5,000 (£3,300) in value to Samaranch and his wife, Maria Teresa Salisachs-Rowe.