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Olympics Committee chief Ward, aides out

March 2, 2003 at 6:13 AM   |   Comments

DENVER, March 2 (UPI) -- A long running leadership struggle has ended with the resignation of U.S. Olympic Committee chief Lloyd Ward and the ouster of three deputies, The Denver Post reported Sunday.

Ward submitted his resignation Saturday and at least three of Ward's lieutenants were asked to leave. Ward, who gets no monetary severance, blamed a staff revolt. Ten predecessors have left since 1978.

The end for Ward appeared to have become inevitable when 17 committee employees met Thursday with the staff of Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., after which he and Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, visited the committee headquarters Friday.

They said staff whistle blowers had turned over to them evidence of fraud at the USOC. Ward was seen cleaning out his office later Friday.

USOC President Bill Martin will name an interim CEO in the coming week. Fred Wohlschlaeger, who was CEO Ward's right-hand man at Maytag and had been seen as a candidate to succeed him, was also asked to leave along with Rick Mack, USOC manager of human resources, and Early Reese, the chief financial officers.

"The people who Ward brought in with him have been party to the same indiscretions, the same wasteful spending, the same culture of privilege," Sen. Campbell said.

Ward, a star college basketball player who became one of the most highly placed black business executives in America at Procter and Gamble, Ford, Pepsico and finally Maytag, was chosen to head the USOC in October 2001 over the staff favorite, attorney Scott Blackmun, USOC's managing director of sports resources.

Ward said, "Clearly competing interests within the USOC have placed its CEOs in an untenable, if not impossible role."

Two USOC board members, after a teleconference Tuesday, had called for Ward to be fired.

Last week the Senate Commerce Committee named an independent task force to come up with a plan for the future for the USOC while the committee's executive committee is working on its own reform plan to head of government control.

Sen. Campbell said he would be happy if the committee could "get on with a positive agenda for the athletes" and said he hasn't decided whether to turn over documents provided by USOC staffers to the Justice Department.

Ward's scheduled $184,000 bonus was canceled three weeks ago for breaking USOC ethics rules. Five USOC officials resigned in protest when he was allowed to keep his job in January.

Just this year Ward was accused of six different sets of ethics breaches involving a family business deal, personal travel expenses, altered records and charges he broke a contract to punish a critic.

© 2003 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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