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Swiss who exposed Olympics corruption dies

Marc Hodler in 1999, a year after he revealed the Salt Lake City scandal

(Keystone)

Marc Hodler, the Swiss senior International Olympic Committee (IOC) member who blew the whistle on corruption in the Salt Lake City Olympics bidding process, has died.

Hodler, who was 87, died in the Swiss capital, Bern, after a "short, serious illness" his son Beat announced on Wednesday.

The Lausanne-based IOC said Hodler had a stroke on Sunday. Hodler's death came eight days before what would have been his 88th birthday.

"The IOC expresses its sadness at the passing of a member who dedicated so much to the Olympic movement," IOC president Jacques Rogge said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Hodler's family."

Samuel Schmid, the Swiss minister for sport, also gave his condolences, saying that national and international sport had lost one of its most outstanding personalities.

Hodler, a lawyer who had been on the IOC since 1963 and was one of its longest serving members, was the main whistleblower in the biggest corruption and bribery affair in the movement's 110 year-history.

Accusations centred on lavish gifts and other inducements to IOC members in return for their votes in the contest to host the 2002 Winter Olympics. It involved several IOC members as well as Salt Lake City officials.

In December 1998 Hodler, who had been on the IOC's coordination committee for the Salt Lake City Games, caused shockwaves when he denounced what he called systematic buying and selling of votes in the host city selection for the 2002 games.

A subsequent investigation led to the expulsion of six IOC members and another four resigned. Several top Salt Lake City officials also resigned.

Scrutiny

The scandal led to practices at the IOC coming under intense scrutiny and calls for change. A year later its assembly approved of a 50-point reform package. This included tightening up the rules surrounding inspection visits to bidding cities.

Hodler's stand is said to have had some repercussions for Switzerland. Salt Lake City had won against the Swiss resort of Sion to host the games in 2002, but when Sion tried again for 2006 it lost out to Turin in Italy. At the time many believed this may have been due to Hodler's allegations.

Holder was the second-longest serving member of the IOC, served four terms on its executive board and was vice-president between 1993 and 1997. An accomplished skier himself, he also headed the International Ski Federation (FIS) from 1951 to 1998 and did much to promote the sport in Switzerland.

For his part, Adolf Ogi, a former Swiss cabinet minister and now United Nations Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace, praised Hodler's devotion to sport.

"He was president of FIS for over 40 years.... and did a lot for the development of Alpine and Nordic skiing and also a lot for worldwide sport within the IOC," he said.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Marc Hodler was born in the Swiss capital, Bern, in 1918, where he later studied law and joined the family law firm.

He was also member of the Swiss skiing team. After a serious accident while training, he turned to coaching and led the Swiss team from 1939-1948.

In 1951 Hodler was appointed to head the International Ski Federation, a post he held for 47 years.

He was vice-president of the International Olympic Committee 1993-1997. In 1998 he caused shockwaves when he exposed the Salt Lake City scandal.

Hodler is survived by his wife and his two sons.

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