The fight over the U.S. Olympic Committee's share of global Olympic revenues is getting ugly.
|USOC chairman Peter Ueberroth [GALLO/GETTY]|
The issue flared into the open Thursday at a joint meeting of the International Olympic Committee executive board and the body that represents the world's 205 national Olympic associations.
The dispute centered on a senior Olympic and sports federation official who attacked the USOC for maintaining its large cut of Olympic funds.
Under a long-standing deal with the IOC, the USOC receives a nearly 13 percent distribution of U.S. TV rights fees and a 20 percent slice of global marketing revenues.
Denis Oswald, an IOC executive board member from Switzerland who heads the association of Olympic sports federations, sent a letter to all national Olympic bodies on March 7 saying it was "no longer morally acceptable'' for the USOC to receive such a privileged share.
USOC president Peter Ueberroth complained to the IOC earlier this week that the letter was "badly spirited'' and an attempt to attack the United States and Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics.
Under international pressure to reduce the U.S. share, the IOC and USOC have been in talks for more than a year on finding a new revenue-sharing formula.
The Association of National Olympic Committees, headed by Mexican media magnate Mario Vazquez Rana, adopted a resolution saying it was "totally incorrect and unacceptable'' for Oswald to take his complaint publicly to all the bodies.
Bob Ctvrtlik, a U.S. IOC member who is the USOC's international vice president, said the IOC should "not allow anything disrespectful'' to Ueberroth.
He said the USOC had submitted written proposals on the revenue issue and would continue to work "in good faith'' to reach an agreement.
Oswald took the floor and said the circumstances that led to the USOC deal 20 years ago had changed and the formula was unacceptable to the federations.
"The international federations are not satisfied and they will continue demanding a reopening of the debate,'' he said.
"We figured the whole of the Olympic family needed to be informed of this position.
"Some people may dislike the procedure we adopted for this,'' he added.
"I apologise for this. There was no intention to insult or hurt anyone. We simply wished to make our position known.''
IOC president Jacques Rogge said he would appoint Oswald and Vazquez Rana to a special panel to negotiate a solution.
Ueberroth was in Beijing earlier this week but flew to San Francisco for Wednesday's leg of the Beijing torch relay.
He told The Associated Press last year that the USOC was working with the IOC for an agreement.
"We've said we will share more if we agree to grow the pie,'' Ueberroth said.
"If we hold the pie steady and shrink it, and you want to fight for little percentages here and there, that's not going to do anybody any good. We need to work together. There's a chance to double the pie.''