International Ice Hockey Federation chief Rene Fasel has admitted “making a mistake” after being reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee for a conflict of interest over broadcasting rights.
Fasel escaped a more serious punishment on Wednesday and was allowed to keep his IOC posts after he helped a friend win a contract with the company controlling the IIHF’s TV and marketing rights.
“I accept the reprimand and I take note of it,” Fasel told agency reporters on Thursday. “It was poor judgement. I made a mistake… I do not feel well about it.”
Fasel, an IOC Executive Board member, also heads the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations and chaired the IOC’s coordination commission for the Vancouver 2010 winter Games.
Fasel’s punishment, despite his senior position, is lighter than in the most recent cases, where less senior members were reprimanded and banned from sitting on any IOC commission for five years.
The IOC has said Fasel helped his friend’s company clinch a deal with the company controlling the rights and was also ‘personally’ involved in various marketing contract negotiations and creating opportunities in the Asian broadcasting market.
He denied taking any money for his mediating role, a claim backed by the results of an investigation.
IOC chief Jacque Rogge defended the organisation’s decision, seen by some as too light for such a senior member, saying while Fasel had tarnished the image of the movement, he had not made money from his involvement.
“Mr Fasel did not commit financial irregularities but Mr Fasel made a mistake to support a personal friend in having a contract with the broadcasting company,” Rogge told reporters.
“(The investigators’) report was very clear that Mr Fasel did not benefit personally. However he has tarnished the reputation of the IOC and got a reprimand,” he said.
The decision comes just days before the start of the ice hockey world championships on May 7.
(Editing by Justin Palmer, To query or comment on this story email email@example.com)