FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Romney’s Salt Lake City Olympics Secrets

by ROBERT WEINER, ROBIN CAMPBELL-BENNETT and SADIQ AHMED

As an American abroad at the London Olympics, Mitt Romney stated on worldwide television that there are “disconcerting” aspects to the current Games.  Not quite endearing himself to the Brits, on NBC from London, he criticized the security, the immigration control, and the British people’s support.

Mr. Romney needs to look at his own Salt Lake City Games he chaired before his kettle calls the other pot black.  It’s not even a matter of archived records that are now missing. There were issues under the radar but with public records that were no model for London 2012 and future Games.

Mitt Romney wrote a 2004 memoir, Turnaround: Crisis, Leadership and the Olympic Games.  In his victory speech after the Florida primary, Romney said, “My leadership helped save the Olympics from scandal.”

Romney’s Salt Lake City Olympic “success” omits a cover-up of athletes’ drugs usage and blood doping, a bid scandal cover-up, and crediting tax dollars as profits.

In the Games’ waning hours, a housekeeper found blood transfusion equipment and blood packets where the Austrian ski team stayed. She alerted the Wasatch County Sheriff.  On March 1, 2002 in a column, “More Curious Material in Skiing’s Closet,”  the New York Times’  George Vecsey asserted, “I can hardly wait for the explanation.”  Austrian officials said coach Walter Mayer applied a “paramedical method” to prevent athletes from catching “colds and flu.” It was an outright lie.  The team was injecting red blood cells to increase endurance performance.  The IOC subsequently banned Mayer from Olympics through 2010 for the illegal transfusions.

Romney did not launch an investigation. In addition, there were six busts from other countries where doping was only revealed the last day, and two gold medalists (Russian and Spanish skiers) were expelled, with little fanfare against the gloss of the Closing Ceremonies.  (In London, nine busts and expulsions have already been announced.)

WADA later took the Austrian incident very seriously. During the run-up to the 2006 Italy Games, local police, tipped off by WADA, raided residences of Austria’s biathlon and cross-country ski teams.  The banned coach was still with the team. Said Richard Pound, World Anti-Doping Association President and IOC Vice President, “The gloves are off now.  Public authorities and sports authorities are prepared to work together.” That’s what Romney was supposed to achieve in Salt Lake City.

Equally troublesome, Romney awarded a $20 million sponsorship to Provo, Utah-based Nu Skin, allowing subsidiary Pharmanex to distribute nutritional supplements to all Salt Lake Olympians. WADA was advising athletes not to take supplements, citing concerns they may be tainted.  Pound said, “I’d be reluctant to have a sponsorship agreement while the industry is fighting regulation and offering disinformation.”  Regardless, Nu Skin was featured all over TV for the Games.

Support has its rewards: Nu Skin Founder Steven Lund put $2 million into Romney Super PAC Restore our Future last year, according to campaign disclosure forms reported by Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, and the Washington Post among others.

Romney maintains the Olympics were profitable.  He counts the help of the U.S. Senate, who directed $1.3 billion taxpayer money to the Salt Lake Games. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) called it a “fleecing” of the U.S. Treasury. The appropriation paid for security, future maintenance of Utah’s venues, sewage systems, transportation, weather forecasting, media housing, and horse adoption (we know the Romneys value horses given their London dressage competitor).

The third cover-up was of a bid scandal to get the Games.  In December 1998, Swiss IOC member Marc Holder, Games oversight committee chair, disclosed that the Salt Lake bid committee lavished gifts on IOC members deciding where the 2002 Games were held. The gifts included college scholarships and jobs for members’ children, and cash.

While Romney was not the Olympics chair during the bidding, he not only conducted no further investigation but awarded contracts to central figures. Former Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman Jr. called Romney’s selections, “cronyism at its peak.” He gave several bid gift-givers contracts including travel hospitality owner Sead Dizdarevic, who admitted in court giving $130,000 to bid organizers.

In his book Romney said he “wanted to serve the community, not run for office,” though a month after the Games, he announced his candidacy for Massachusetts Governor.

We all hope for a clean Olympics in London.  While Mitt Romney showed how to claim a profit, his Salt Lake secrets we now know provide lessons of what must be corrected for future Olympic Games.

 

Robert Weiner was White House Drug Policy Office spokesman and was WADA’s Salt Lake City Games media spokesman. 

Robin Campbell-Bennett is a two-time U.S. Olympian (1980 and 1984, track and field) and served on the USA drug-testing committee. 

Sadiq Ahmed is senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates.

 

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

March 28, 2017
Mike Whitney
Ending Syria’s Nightmare will Take Pressure From Below 
Mark Kernan
Memory Against Forgetting: the Resonance of Bloody Sunday
John McMurtry
Fake News: the Unravelling of US Empire From Within
Ron Jacobs
Mad Dog, Meet Eris, Queen of Strife
Michael J. Sainato
State Dept. Condemns Attacks on Russian Peaceful Protests, Ignores Those in America
Ted Rall
Five Things the Democrats Could Do to Save Their Party (But Probably Won’t)
Linn Washington Jr.
Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Hiring Practices: Privilege or Prejudice?
Philippe Marlière
Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Presidential Hopeful, is Good News for the French Left
Norman Pollack
Political Cannibalism: Eating America’s Vitals
Bruce Mastron
Obamacare? Trumpcare? Why Not Cubacare?
David Macaray
Hollywood Screen and TV Writers Call for Strike Vote
Christian Sorensen
We’ve Let Capitalism Kill the Planet
Rodolfo Acuna
What We Don’t Want to Know
Binoy Kampmark
The Futility of the Electronics Ban
Andrew Moss
Why ICE Raids Imperil Us All
March 27, 2017
Robert Hunziker
A Record-Setting Climate Going Bonkers
Frank Stricker
Why $15 an Hour Should be the Absolute Minimum Minimum Wage
Melvin Goodman
The Disappearance of Bipartisanship on the Intelligence Committees
Patrick Cockburn
ISIS’s Losses in Syria and Iraq Will Make It Difficult to Recruit
Russell Mokhiber
Single-Payer Bernie Morphs Into Public Option Dean
Gregory Barrett
Can Democracy Save Us?
Dave Lindorff
Budget Goes Military
John Heid
Disappeared on the Border: “Chase and Scatter” — to Death
Mark Weisbrot
The Troubling Financial Activities of an Ecuadorian Presidential Candidate
Robert Fisk
As ISIS’s Caliphate Shrinks, Syrian Anger Grows
Michael J. Sainato
Democratic Party Continues Shunning Popular Sanders Surrogates
Paul Bentley
Nazi Heritage: the Strange Saga of Chrystia Freeland’s Ukrainian Grandfather
Christopher Ketcham
Buddhism in the Storm
Thomas Barker
Platitudes in the Wake of London’s Terror Attack
Mike Hastie
Insane Truths: a Vietnam Vet on “Apocalypse Now, Redux”
Binoy Kampmark
Cyclone Watch in Australia
Weekend Edition
March 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump is Obama’s Legacy: Will this Break up the Democratic Party?
Eric Draitser
Donald Trump and the Triumph of White Identity Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nothing Was Delivered
Andrew Levine
Ryan’s Choice
Joshua Frank
Global Coal in Freefall, Tar Sands Development Drying Up (Bad News for Keystone XL)
Anthony DiMaggio
Ditching the “Deep State”: The Rise of a New Conspiracy Theory in American Politics
Rob Urie
Boris and Natasha Visit Fantasy Island
John Wight
London and the Dreary Ritual of Terrorist Attacks
Paul Buhle
The CIA and the Intellectuals…Again
David Rosen
Why Did Trump Target Transgender Youth?
Vijay Prashad
Inventing Enemies
Ben Debney
Outrage From the Imperial Playbook
M. Shadee Malaklou
An Open Letter to Duke University’s Class of 2007, About Your Open Letter to Stephen Miller
Michael J. Sainato
Bernie Sanders’ Economic Advisor Shreds Trumponomics
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail