Olympic Inclusion:

IOC Member Criticizes Executive Board's Handling of Olympic Program Review

Anita Defrantz Says Secrecy Hindered Review Process

By Robert "Just the Factoids" Burnson

IOC member Anita Defrantz said today that any new Olympic sports should be drug free, include both men and women and "bring some element to the program that doesn't already exist."

But she declined to talk specifically about roller sports and its failed bid to win entry to the Games.

"I can't tell you why what happened, happened," said Defrantz, the senior U.S. member of the International Olympic Committee. "It was all done with secret ballots, and there was no discussion beforehand. So nothing was made clear."

Meeting last week in Singapore, the IOC voted to oust baseball and softball from the 2012 Summer Games and then rejected all five replacement candidates, including roller sports.

Defrantz, a bronze medalist in the 1976 Olympics in rowing, said she couldn't explain the vote.

"That's really impossible for me to do because each member has there own opinion, and it was a secret ballot," she said.

"We have no knowledge of what went on, which may have been an irritant ... actually it was. The session felt we should have that knowledge (of how the voting was going). But we weren't allowed."

Defrantz said the IOC Executive Board did little to prepare members for the vote on replacement sports.

"We were told, 'Here's the slate, and here's the process for voting.'

"That's all. There was no discussion, no presentations (by the candidate sports). Nothing."

In the first round of voting, karate and squash were the only sports to collect the majority needed to be nominated for the Games.

But in the second round of voting, both failed -- by large margins -- to muster the two-thirds required for entry into the program.

As a result, the 2012 Summer Games will feature 26, rather than 28, sports.

IOC president Jacques Rogge is promising that the program will be reviewed again for the 2016 Summer Games.

But it is not clear what sports will be considered as replacements.

Defrantz said she still doesn't know how the last bunch of replacement candidates was selected.

Asked what attributes new sports should have, she said:

"Obviously, they have to be drug free. Obviously, they have to include women and men. And they have to bring some element to the program that doesn't already exist. But that's just my opinion."

Defrantz said she was "deeply distressed" that members ousted softball from the Games.

Softball is the only women's-only sport in the Olympics, which in recent years has been trying to boost female participation.

(posted on July 13, 2005)


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Copyright © 2005 by Robert Burnson

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