After weeks of President Obama and others pummeling Mitt Romney over his management of Bain Capital and his personal tax returns, a group of Democrats is now taking on what had been widely seen as an accomplishment for the Republican presidential candidate: his rescue of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Romney is widely regarded for having used his business experience to salvage the troubled Games in Salt Lake City.
However, that success is another mirage in Romney’s past, according to Clinton-era White House spokesman Robert Weiner, two-time Olympian Robin Campbell-Bennett, and policy analyst Sadiq Ahmed.
The three assert that “Romney’s Olympic ‘success’ omits a cover-up of athletes’ drugs usage and blood doping, rewards and covers up a bid scandal, and credits tax dollars as profits. Romney and his Olympics hid all this for the sake of a clean image of the Games and for Romney’s promotion as an organizer.”
The report, published in OPED NEWS, is titled, “Romney’s Olympic Secrets Belie Management Skill.”
Weiner, Campbell-Bennett, and Ahmed say, “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.”
They continue, “Romney did not launch an investigation to get to the bottom of the incident. In addition, there were six busts from other countries where the 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.”
The report asserts that Romney’s handling of those incidents, served as a poor precedent by downplaying the incident to reinforce the illusion of a clean Olympics. The authors also point out that things were done very differently after Salt Lake City:
“During the run up to the 2006 Torino, Italy Games, Italian police, tipped off by WADA, raided residences of Austria’s biathlon and cross-country ski teams. The banned coach was still with the team.” They quote World Anti-Doping Association President and IOC Vice President Richard Pound who said, “The gloves are off now. Public authorities and sports authorities are prepared to work together.” The writers contend, “That’s what Romney was supposed to achieve in Salt Lake City.”
The authors also point out that for Romney, “Support has its rewards.” They lay out how business and future considerations may have trumped sound decisions as he “awarded a sponsorship deal to Provo, Utah based Nu Skin” whose founder Steven Lund “put $2 million into Romney Super PAC Restore our Future last year.” The authors cite three major sources using federal records for this contention—the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, and Mother Jones.
The authors also point out that Romney’s claim that the games were profitable is shaky because “he counts the help of the U.S. Senate, who directed $1.3 billion taxpayer money to the Salt Lake Games.” They quote Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who called the Romney tax dollars “a fleecing of the U.S. Treasury.”
The authors also point out that former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. called Romney’s contract and hiring selections, “cronyism at its peak.”
Huntsman was a rival earlier this year as he and Romney each sought the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.
They report that though “Romney was not the Olympics chair during the bid scandal,” he “conducted no investigation but awarded contracts to central figures” such as “travel hospitality owner Sead Dizdarevic, who admitted in court giving $130,000” in hidden payments to Olympic organizers—and later thousands of dollars to Romney and his PACS.
Weiner, Campbell, and Ahmed say, “The point of our piece is that we all want clean future Olympics.”
The three authors conclude the report by stating, “We all hope for a clean Olympics in London and beyond. While Mitt Romney showed how to claim a profit, his cover-ups refute his claims of successful management and give us lessons of what must be corrected for future Olympic Games.”